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Montreal daycare grapples with COVID-19 outbreak

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WATCH: CPE Enfant des Neiges has been forced to stay open by public health authorities, despite an outbreak at the facility. Montreal public health says the situation is under control but as Olivia O'Malley explains, at least one parent is concerned that the daycare is allowed to stay open – Oct 20, 2020

Enfant des Neiges daycare in In Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough has seen seven educators and two children test positive for COVID-19 since last Monday, but remains open.

An additional three educators and three age groups are also in preventative isolation.

Out of around 35 children, only two showed up on Tuesday, leaving the daycare’s director Cathy Bourgeois asking why the child-care service is still open.

“I find that it does not make sense that public health does not close us,” Bourgeois said. “I understand we are an essential service, but when there is an outbreak, things go much faster in the school system.”

The transmission started on Monday, Oct. 12, when she and another educator tested positive. In emails obtained by Global News, Bourgeois urged parents to keep their kids home if they had symptoms but said children can continue to come to daycare.

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Read more: Quebec will not shut down daycare network in event of second coronavirus wave

Forced to manage the situation at home while dealing with COVID, she says she pushed public health to close the daycare but to no avail.

Public health then sent its first correspondence to families which stated “following a public health assessment, your child’s risk of becoming infected is considered low and they can continue to attend child care.”

This is when one father who chose to remain anonymous, decided to keep his child home.

“I knew right away this is probably going to become a disaster and I just wanted to make sure my kid stayed away from it,” he said.

Three days later on Oct. 15, Bourgeois let families know another educator and one child had tested positive.

Read more: New study to track coronavirus infection rates among Montreal-area children

Two more adults received positive results the next day, bringing the total amount of people infected from the daycare to six on Friday, Oct. 16.

In a second letter on Oct. 17, Montreal public health admitted to families “there is currently an outbreak of COVID-19 at your child’s daycare.”

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The letter went on to state cases were transmitted at the daycare but said “the situation is currently under control and allows the childcare service to be kept open, with the strengthening of preventive measures.”

The same day, as a precaution, they recommended all staff and children who attended Enfant des Neiges since Oct. 9 be tested.

The father Global News spoke to questions the response time of public health, given at this point cases had already been transmitted within the daycare.

Read more: Montreal’s east end gets new COVID-19 testing clinic

“Instead, the daycare stayed open, more and more people got infected, the parents are going to have to keep their kids home,” he said.

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He went on to add he doesn’t understand the need to keep the daycare open.

“It does not seem consistent given that it’s not safe for children to participate in skating activities or playdates at the park with friends, but it’s safe for them to go into an active uncontrolled outbreak.”

On Tuesday there were just two students who chose to return to the daycare, and three educators able to teach.

Although he wasn’t familiar with the specific case, Premier Francois Legault told reporters Tuesday “if there are six or seven people that are infected, I’m surprised that it’s not closed.”

When contacted by Global News on Tuesday, Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for Montreal public health, said it is rare they close child care services and it will stay open as the situation is considered to be under control.

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