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Child Care

Child care safety guidance for parents, operators and staff.
Last updated: January 19, 2022

The public health guidance for child care settings has been updated. It is intended to support child care service providers to manage respiratory infections, including COVID-19. 

The updated guidance is summarized below. Local regions and specific child care settings may implement additional measures as needed.

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

Everyone 5 years and older is eligible for vaccination. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect adults and children from serious illness from COVID-19, including the Omicron variant.

Do a daily health check

Daily health checks help make sure people do not come to child care when they are sick or required to self-isolate. Everyone should complete a daily health check before for symptoms of COVID-19 they enter a child care setting. 

  • Parents/caregivers should be aware their child should not go to child care if their child is sick or required to self-isolate. 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 their responsibility to do a daily health check before coming to child care.  
Find the latest information about COVID-19 at bccdc.ca/covid19. This includes possible symptoms and information about COVID-19 in children.

Stay home when sick

  • Staff and children who are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home.
  • Use the When to get a COVID-19 test resource or the B.C. Self-Assessment Tool to find out whether a test is recommended.
    • For many people with mild symptoms, testing will not be recommended. If a test is not recommended, the person can return when they feel well enough to participate in activities.
Staff, children and parents/caregivers can also call 8-1-1 or consult their health-care provider for guidance.

Practice personal measures 

Personal health and safety measures help keep the risk of COVID-19 in child care settings low. 

Adults should
  • Clean hands often. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Practice respiratory etiquette. Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Respect others’ personal space. Personal space is the distance from which a person feels comfortable being next to another person.
  • Stay home when sick or required to self-isolate.

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 sneezing/coughing into the elbow and throwing out used tissues right away. 
  • Encourage them to tell staff if they’re not feeling well and keep them home when sick.

Wear masks when recommended

Masks can provide an extra layer of protection to you and those around you. Information on how to make your mask fit properly is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.
 
Mask wearing for adults

All adults are required to wear a mask while indoors in a child care setting, except when:
  • they are unable to because of a psychological, behavioural, or health condition, 
  • they are unable to put on or remove a mask with the assistance of another person
  • the mask is removed temporarily to identify the person
  • they are engaged in an educational activity that can't be performed while wearing a mask. For example, playing a wind instrument or high intensity physical activity
  • they are eating or drinking
  • they are behind a barrier like plexiglass, or in a room by themselves.
  • they are providing a service to a person with diverse ability who requires visual cues, facial expressions or lip reading.
Mask wearing for children

  • In non-family child care settings and for programs in K-12 school settings, school-age children are required to wear a mask while indoors, except when:
    • they are unable to because of a psychological, behavioural, or health condition, 
    • they are unable to put on or remove a mask with the assistance of another person
    • the mask is removed temporarily to identify the person
    • they are engaged in an educational activity that can't be performed while wearing a mask. For example, playing a wind instrument or high intensity physical activity
    • they are eating or drinking
    • they are behind a barrier like plexiglass, or in a room by themselves.
    • they are communicating with a person with diverse ability who requires visual cues, facial expressions or lip reading.
  • Younger (non school-age children) in non-family child care settings may wear a mask based on personal or family choice. 
  • In family child care settings, children may wear a mask based on personal or family choice.
  • Infants under 2 years of age should not wear a mask. 

See the Masks page for more information on how to use a mask properly.
 
For more information on these prevention measures, see the Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings.

Frequently Asked Questions


The guidance applies to everyone in child care, regardless of vaccination status. There are some differences in recommendations between people who are vaccinated compared to people who are not. 


For example, adults over 18 years who are unvaccinated and have tested positive for COVID-19 will need to self-isolate for 10 days. Adults over 18 years who are vaccinated and have tested positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for 5 days.

Children from different schools can still attend before- and after-care together.
The Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings outlines the health and safety measures that should be in place to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading. These guidelines apply to all child care settings, including those in personal homes. 

Child care operators should review the Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings to determine how the measures can be applied in their setting. 

Additional information is also available from WorkSafeBC

Safety measures in place

What child care programs are doing

Several health and safety measures are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases in child care settings. These include:
  • Ensuring ventilation systems are working effectively
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces 
  • Providing regular opportunities for hand cleaning
  • Requiring the wearing of masks as appropriate
  • Communicating the requirement for daily 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.
Find more information on prevention measures, see the Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings.

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 Guidance for K-12 Schools and the Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings. What health and safety measures 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.  More information about the health and safety measures in place in K-12 schools is available here.


Child care settings that are not run by the school (independent operators) should follow the Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings

Staff and other adults, including practicum students, volunteers and parents, can work with different groups of children and/or at multiple sites. 


Staff, students and volunteers should always follow health and safety measures, like wearing a mask and frequent hand hygiene. 

Child care is important for the learning, health and development of children. The Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings was developed to support child care service providers to manage respiratory infections, 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 are struggling 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 during COVID-19. 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. There are also resources on the mental well-being page of the BCCDC website.



When someone at childcare is sick

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

They should stay home. Use the When to get tested for COVID-19 resource or the BC Self-Assessment Tool to see if they should get a COVID-19 test.

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

Returning after sickness

For most staff and children with mild symptoms, a COVID-19 test will not be recommended. Staff and children who are not recommended to get a COVID-19 test can return to child care settings when they feel well enough to participate in activities.

If a COVID-19 test is recommended, the person 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.
  • If the test is positive, follow the guidance on If You Have COVID-19.
The When to Get Tested for COVID-19 resource or the B.C. Self-Assessment Tool to provides more information on whether you should get a test for COVID-19.

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. The person who is sick can use the When to get tested for COVID-19 resource or the BC Self-Assessment Tool to see if they need to get tested.

For more information on living with someone with COVID-19, visit the BCCDC Self-Isolation page.

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. 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. Information follow direction from public health on about how long to self-isolate and when to end self-isolation is available on the BCCDC website.

Case and contact tracing are no longer measures that will help to contain the virus. Instead, 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. 

While not required by public health, child care operators may notify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 without breaching individual privacy. 


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