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COVID 19: Public health guidance for childcare settings

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Ministry of Health
government document
Publication Date: 
24 May 2020


As child care owners and/or operators, you and your staff play a key role in protecting children from and minimizing the impact of infection and illness. This is especially important at this time as we work to prevent and minimize the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus. Here are some guidelines about hand washing, cleaning and ideas about social distancing for you to consider in your childcare setting.

If you’re ill – stay at home.

Within childcare settings, children and staff will often have influenza or other respiratory viruses with symptoms similar to COVID-19 (i.e., influenza). For this reason, all children and staff who are ill with fever, have cold, influenza or infectious respiratory symptoms of any kind need to stay home. If children and staff have symptoms, self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the onset of symptoms and until symptoms have completely resolved. If you are at all unsure of your status, the BC Centre for Disease Control’s online assessment tool can help you assess whether you should stay home or not.

Encouraging hand hygiene

As we know, little and big hands pick up germs easily, from anything they touch, and can spread those germs to objects, surfaces, food and people. Handwashing with soap and water is still the single most effective way to reduce the spread of illness. Children forget about proper hand washing so practice often and teach them to wash their hands properly in a fun and relaxed way.

Everyone – all staff and children should wash their hands more often! When sinks for hand washing are simply not available, you may use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS) containing at least 60% alcohol. Know that this is not very effective when a child’s hands are quite soiled, when coming in from outside, for example. Read labels and wash hands with sanitizer the same way you would wash with soap and water.

Six steps to proper handwashing

  1. Wet hands with warm running water.
  2. Apply a small amount of liquid soap. Antibacterial soap is not required.
  3. Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds (sing the ABC’s). Rub palms, backs of hands, between fingers and under nails and creating a lather.
  4. Rinse off all soap with running water.
  5. Dry hands with a clean, disposable towel.
  6. Discard the used towel in the waste container.

Children should wash their hands… 

  • When they arrive at the centre and before they go home
  • Before eating and drinking
  • After a diaper change, using the toilet
  • After playing outside or handling pets
  • After sneezing or coughing into hands
  • Whenever hands are visibly dirty

For full guidelines see the attached PDF