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Children, staff exposed to COVID-19 can still attend daycare if symptom-free: BC CDC

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The BC CDC has released much-anticipated guidelines for child-care spaces, allowing close COVID-19 contacts to attend daycare without having to isolate if they are symptom-free.

The nine-page document released Wednesday night sets standards for child-care operators, scrapping the previous isolation guidelines.

Staff who are close contacts to a COVID-19 case also do not have to isolate if they are symptom-free.

The BC CDC also updated guidance late Wednesday removing the requirement for all close COVID-19 contacts to isolate, no matter whether they are vaccinated or not.

“Staff or children who are exposed to COVID-19 may continue to attend child care, regardless of vaccination status, unless they develop symptoms and/or test positive for COVID-19,” the guidelines read.

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Child-care operators have been raising concerns about a lack of consistent polices from the province.

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The facilities have now been deemed an essential service and should not close if staff are close contacts of COVID-19 cases or if there was a positive COVID-19 case in the facility.

“They should not be closed for public health reasons unless directed to do so by a Medical Health Officer,” the guidelines said.

“Facilities experiencing illness amongst staff may need to close for operational reasons if they are unable to maintain staff-to-child ratios as required under the Child Care Licensing Regulation.”

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While not required by public health, the BC CDC says child-care operators may ask to be notified by people who recently attended or worked in a child-care space and tested positive for COVID-19.

Child-care operators may notify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 without breaching individual privacy.

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Operators are expected to establish procedures for those who become sick in a child-care setting to go home as soon as possible.

Read more: Children who are a close COVID contact but still healthy can go to daycare, B.C. officials say

Some children or staff may not be able to be picked up immediately, and the providers should consider having a space available where the child or staff member can wait comfortably, which is safe and is separated from others.

“This can include being in the same room as others, as long as the person experiencing illness is at least two metres away from others and wears a mask if they’re able to provide supervision for younger children,” the guidance reads.

School-aged children at B.C. child-care facilities are now required to wear a mask while indoors, subject to exceptions.

Non school-aged children attending child-care programs in non-family child-care settings may wear a mask based on personal or family choice.

Read more: BC CDC flip flops on isolation requirements for unvaccinated COVID-19-positive people

There are mask-wearing exemptions, including if the child is unable to wear a mask because of a psychological, behavioural, or health condition; or if the child is unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person.

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Infants under two years of age should not wear masks as it may make it difficult for them to breathe and may become a choking hazard, according to the BC CDC.

“Child-care staff should supervise and support children to ensure safe and proper use if masks are worn,” the guidelines read.

“Child-care providers are encouraged to support mask use by children through positive and inclusive approaches, and not punitive or enforcement activities that exclude students from fully participating in activities or that could result in stigma.”

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