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Child Care

Child care safety guidance for parents, operators and staff.
Last updated: November 17, 2022

The Public Health Guidance for Communicable Disease (including COVID-19) Management in Child Care Settings is intended to support child care service providers to manage infections, including COVID-19. 

The guidance is summarized below.

Child care programs operating in First Nation communities should follow the requirements and processes set out by their First Nation leadership and/or emergency response committee.
Attending child care safely

Get vaccinated

Vaccines are important tools to protect against many serious communicable diseases.  Staff and families are also encouraged to ensure they are up to date on all recommended vaccines for other communicable diseases.
 
People 6 months and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect adults and children from serious illness from COVID-19.

Do regular health check

Health checks help make sure people do not attend child care when they are sick. Everyone should ensure they are not experiencing any symptoms of illness (including symptoms of COVID-19) that would limit their ability to participate fully in regular activities before coming to a child care setting. 

  • Parents/caregivers should be aware their child should not go to child care if their child is sick. Parents/caregivers can also encourage their child(ren) to share when they are not feeling well. 
  • Child care operators should regularly remind staff and parents/caregivers about the importance of regularly checking for symptoms of illness (including but not limited to COVID-19 symptoms) before coming to child care.
Find the latest information about COVID-19 at bccdc.ca/covid19. This includes information about symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

Stay home when sick

  • Staff and children who are sick and unable to participate fully in routine activities should stay home.
  • You can return when you feel well enough to participate in activities and you no longer have a fever.
  • The When to get a COVID-19 test resource or the B.C. COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool provides information on when a COVID-19 test is recommended. If you test positive for COVID-19, go to If You Have COVID-19 to learn what to do.
Staff, children and parents/caregivers can also call 8-1-1 or consult their health-care provider for guidance.

Practice personal measures

Adults should
  • Clean hands often. Wash your hands with plain soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Practice respiratory etiquette. Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay home when sick.
Children can be supported to practice personal health and safety measures
  • Help children practice hand hygiene often, especially before and after using the bathroom and using commonly touched surfaces (e.g. the playground, etc.). 
  • Help children practice respiratory etiquette, including reminding them to sneeze/cough into the elbow and throwing out used tissues right away. 
  • Encourage children to tell staff if they’re not feeling well and keep them home when sick.

Masks

Masks can provide an extra layer of protection. Information on how to make your mask fit properly is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

All adults and children over two years old may wear a mask based on personal or family choice. Child care staff should supervise and support children to ensure safe and proper use of masks if a child or their family chooses to wear a mask. 

The choice of staff, families, or children to choose whether they practice additional personal prevention measures should be supported and treated with respect.

Infants under 2 years of age should not wear a mask. 
Staff and those providing services to children with medical complexity, immune suppression, receiving delegated care, or with disabilities and diverse abilities that require them to be in close proximity to a child should follow routine infection control practices needed for general communicable disease prevention. 

See the Masks page for more information on how to use a mask properly.

Frequently Asked Questions


The guidance applies to everyone in child care, regardless of vaccination status. There are some differences in recommendations if they test positive for COVID-19 between people who are vaccinated compared to people who are not. 


Adults 18 years and older who are not fully vaccinated and have tested positive for COVID-19 will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days. Adults 18 years and older who are fully vaccinated and have tested positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for at least 5 days. 


Children under 18 years who have tested positive for COVID-19 will need to self-isolate for at least 5 days. 


Go to If you have COVID-19 for more information.

The Public Health Guidance for Communicable Disease (including COVID-19) Management in Child Care Settings outlines the health and safety measures that should be in place to reduce the likelihood of spread of infections, including COVID-19. These guidelines apply to all child care settings, including those in personal homes. 
 
Child care operators should review the Public Health Guidance for Communicable Disease (including COVID-19) Management in  Child Care Settings to determine how the measures can be applied in their setting. 

Safety measures

What child care programs are doing

Several health and safety measures are in place to limit the spread of communicable diseases including COVID-19 in child care settings. These include:
  • Ensuring ventilation systems are working properly
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection
  • Providing regular opportunities for hand cleaning
  • Communicating the importance of regular health checks and staying home if sick
  • Having procedures for those who become sick while at child care
  • Following public health orders and recommendations as applicable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Child care settings run by a school and/or school district may be required to follow their school's health and safety plans that meet the requirements set by the Ministry of Education. Operators should work with the school administrator to determine what health and safety measures are best suited for their unique circumstance, based on the Public Health Communicable Disease Guidance for K-12 Schools and the Public Health Guidance for Communicable Disease (including COVID-19) Management in Child Care Settings. The health and safety measures that are best suited may vary depending on the age of children in care and the types of activities that children typically do in that setting.  


Learn about the health and safety measures in place in K-12 schools


Child care settings that are not run by the school (independent operators) should follow the Public Health Guidance for Communicable Disease (including COVID-19) Management in Child Care Settings

Child care is important for the learning, health and development of children. 


The Public Health Guidance for Communicable Disease (including COVID-19) Management in Child Care Settings was developed to support child care service providers to manage communicable diseases, including COVID-19.


The impacts of COVID-19 and COVID-19 response measures on children's health and development are not yet fully understood.


We know that many children and families struggle with feeling worried or overwhelmed, with so much uncertainty in daily life. It's important for everyone to look after their mental health and well-being. Child Health BC is a provincial organization supporting children's health. 


Visit the Child Health BC website for a list of mental health resources for parents and caregivers, children, and staff. 



When someone at child care is sick

If a staff member, child, or other person gets sick at home:

They should stay home until they feel well enough to participate in regular activities.

The When to get tested for COVID-19 resource or the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool provides information on whether you should get a COVID-19 test.

Anyone with health-related questions can call 8-1-1. 

Returning after sickness

If staff or children are tested for COVID-19, they must stay home until they receive their test result:

  • If the test is negative, they can return when they feel well enough to participate in activities and do not have a fever.
  • If the test is positive, follow the guidance on If You Have COVID-19.
Staff and children who are not tested for COVID-19, who are not recommended to get a COVID-19 test, or test negative for COVID-19 can return to child care settings when they feel well enough to participate in activities and no longer have a fever without the use of medications like acetaminophen.

If someone who attended child care tests positive for COVID-19

Other staff or children in the child care may continue to attend the facility, regardless of vaccination status, unless they develop symptoms and/or test positive for COVID-19. They should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms

If someone who attends child care lives with someone who is sick

Staff and children can attend child care if someone in their household is sick, as long as they don’t have any symptoms of illness themselves. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Your child should stay home. The child can return to child care when they no longer have a fever, their symptoms improve, and it has been at least 5 days after their symptoms began. 


Learn what to do if your child has COVID-19.

Use the When to Get Tested for COVID-19 resource or the B.C. COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to find out whether a test is recommended. Most children do not need a COVID-19 test. If a COVID-19 test is not recommended, they should stay home until they feel well enough to participate in activities. 

If a COVID-19 test is recommended, they should stay home until they receive their test result. If the test is negative, they can return when symptoms improve and they feel well enough to participate in regular activities. If the test is positive, they must self-isolate. 

Parents should let their child care facility if their child is absent due to illness; they do not need to disclose if their absence is due to COVID 19. 


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