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B.C. daycares to stay open, but situation could change quickly: Horgan

How will closing B.C. schools due to coronavirus crisis impact daycares?
Premier John Horgan answers questions about the status of daycares and how B.C. families will take care of young children after the announcement Tuesday of indefinite school closures for K-12 classes.

Licensed daycares in B.C. will remain open, despite schools being closed indefinitely, but the situation could change quickly, says Premier John Horgan.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Horgan and two cabinet ministers announced the closure of K-12 classes until further notice, and said further supports for businesses are coming on Wednesday. Most kids in B.C. are already on spring break.

“At this time, childcare will remain available,” he said. “A parent should take comfort in that, but it is an evolving situation and should the public health officials give us different directions, we’ll be taking different actions.”

He added that families should be ready to make new plans immediately if new information comes in.

Amanda Worms of BC Child Care Owners Association says she fails to understand why daycares remain open while schools are closed.

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“We are confused why there is a double standard when it comes to these public gatherings,” she said, noting that young children do not have the maturity to practise social distancing.

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Worms said daycares may struggle with staffing levels as some workers may someday be forced to self-isolate while others may miss work to tend to their own school-age children who are not in class.

“Many of us just won’t have the staff to operate going forward,” she said.

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Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she is working with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to develop a strategy that protects children and daycare staff, and ensures that “we have that essential service available for essential workers.”

Horgan said a potential school return date will be discussed later on.

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Some schools will remain open to look after the children of health-care providers and other essential workers.

Talking to children about COVID-19
Talking to children about COVID-19

Education Minister Rob Fleming said many spring break camps have already been cancelled, and that officials have laid out best practices for those still scheduled to occur.

— With files from Richard Zussman