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Calgary daycare to reopen after being ordered to close over cockroach, mice concerns

Click to play video: 'Calgary daycare ordered to close over concerns about cockroaches in the kitchen'
Calgary daycare ordered to close over concerns about cockroaches in the kitchen
A Calgary day care was ordered closed this week for violations that included cockroaches in the kitchen to mouse dropping in play areas. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Feb 10, 2024

A Calgary daycare will reopen Monday after it was ordered to close last week for violations that included cockroaches in the kitchen and mouse droppings in play areas.

Parents with children at Sun Valley Kids Academy and Montessori told Global News they had to scramble to find alternative care on late Tuesday afternoon.

According to an email that was sent just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, they were notified that the facility would be “temporarily closing for essential maintenance work to rectify certain issues and bring our facilities to the highest standards” and mentioned the use of a pest control company.

On Wednesday, parents received an update saying the daycare would remain closed on Feb. 8 and 9.

“As you may know, (Alberta Health Services) has provided the guidelines to ensure all the necessary safety measures are in place before reopening,” the email read. “Our team has been diligently working to implement these measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our children, staff and community. We are currently awaiting approval from AHS and expect to receive a response confirmation.”

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Parents say the following message came shortly afterward:

“Unfortunately, we are closed for the rest of the week putting you all in a difficult situation. But at the same time, I want to assure you that the health and safety of your children are our utmost concern. After the inspection, we immediately initiated a thorough inspection of the entire premises in collaboration with professional pest control services and deep cleaners.”

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The email went on to list all the cleaning and maintenance that had been done.

One parent who provided emails but didn’t want her name used wasn’t satisfied with that response. She went to the AHS website to find more information. That’s when she found out that on  Feb. 7, the daycare was ordered closed for a long list of health violations.

The notice of closure said live and dead cockroaches were found in the kitchen food preparation areas, including on the walls, under the sink and in the refrigerator. The notice also said dead cockroaches were observed in the kitchen cabinet and drawers.

The report stated that mouse droppings were found throughout the facility, on the carpet, near the napping area and next to the play kitchen.

“Mouse droppings were in contact with children’s toys and personal items, including bite marks and droppings observed on foam toys in the baby room,” the notice read. “There was no approved food-safe sanitizer solution in the kitchen. Pine-Sol and vinegar were being used as sanitizers.”

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The report alleged that equipment and surfaces throughout the kitchen were dirty, the probe thermometer in the kitchen was broken and staff demonstrated a lack of food safety knowledge.

An AHS spokesperson further clarified the daycare will remain closed until appropriate pest mitigation strategies and thorough cleanings have been done and have passed a re-inspection.

“There have been no reported illnesses linked to this investigation to date,” the spokesperson said in an email.

The order notes that the owner has the right to appeal the decision by submitting a notice of appeal within 10 days of receiving the order.

An email to parents from the daycare on Friday stated AHS was satisfied with the deep cleaning that was done. AHS was scheduled to make another visit on Saturday.

The parent who spoke with Global News wonders why she never got information from the daycare about why it was ordered to close.

“They just weren’t upfront at all about what (had) happened. First, it seemed like a voluntary shutdown to deal with an infestation,” she said.

The Calgary parent said the most frustrating part is this comes after E. coli outbreaks at Calgary daycares last year that required children to be hospitalized.

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“Our facility assured us that their cleanliness standards were up to par and they were increasing them to make sure something like that didn’t happen at our facility. So to see cockroaches in the kitchen and most droppings all over the facility shows that they really did nothing. Not even the bare minimum,” she said.

In a letter sent home to parents, the director of the daycare said the facility was given the go-ahead by AHS to reopen Monday.

“Starting this upcoming Monday, our center will resume its operations as usual,” the letter stated. “We understand that recent events may have caused uncertainty and concern, but please rest assured that we have taken every precaution necessary to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for your children.”

The letter said staff have gone through thorough training on enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols.

“We want to express our sincere gratitude for your patience, understanding and support during this challenging time.”

The daycare has scheduled a meeting with parents for Tuesday.

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