Staff at Manitoba child care facilities and an array of other social services working with vulnerable persons will now be able to return to work with a negative COVID-19 test, even if they have mild symptoms.
The changes were outlined in a memo from Manitoba Families obtained by Global News that was circulated within the sector Friday.
It applies to early learning and child care facilities, Community Living disABILITY Services service providers, Child and Family Services group care providers, and homeless and family violence shelters.
The memo says symptomatic staff may return to work if three conditions are met.
The individual must have tested negative from a provincial testing site, or received two negative test results from self-administered tests 24 hours apart.
The person must also have mild and improving symptoms, and have been without a fever for 24 hours without medication.
Jodie Kehl, executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association, says individual facilities may or may not choose to use the updated protocols.
“I think it’s important that families have access to child care as they continue to go back to work. I think it’s really important that children have access to child care so they have continuity and consistency in their lives. But I also think it’s critical that our early childhood educators are protected during this time,” Kehl said.
“So we are calling on the province to ensure that they are protecting and supporting our early childhood educators by providing the N95 masks, as well as a robust supply of their rapid tests so they can continue to test all staff to ensure that it’s a safe and healthy environment.”
Kehl encourages families to keep the line of communication open with their child care facilities to not only stay informed on their protocols, but also to be aware of staffing issues.
“I think families need to be prepared too that with these increased staffing shortages, there may be a chance that childcare facilities have to shut down cohorts, may have to reduce their enrollment, may have to reduce their hours of operation,” Kehl said.
“So I would advise families to ensure that they have backup child care plans in case their facility may not be able to provide that safe, healthy, licensed child care for them.”
Kehl added staffing shortages are nothing new, but have been grossly exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.
Global News contacted the province to find out more about the changes, but did not receive a response Sunday.