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Early learning and child care survey - Manitoba

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Gerstein, A., Kelly, L., Nijdam-Jones, A., Prentice, S., Protudjer, J., & Shaw, S.
Publication Date: 
18 Jan 2022

Excerpted from homepage

There is an acute need for government resources to be provided to Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) programs to keep childcare workers and children safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day childcare workers are asked to spend many hours  with unvaccinated children, many of whom are unmasked and can not physically distance. This is often done without the protection of quality of masks (KN95/N95) that have been shown to reduce the rates of transmission, and often in poorly ventilated spaces. This sector has also not been prioritized for rapid tests. Given the current widespread community infection rate of the omicron variant in Manitoba and around the world, childcare staff carry a heavy mental load with anxieties of interacting with potentially infectious children and the possibility of spreading infection to the children they provide care for and their families. 

No government data is available for parents in Manitoba to make informed decisions about sending their children to childcare or to inform site level policies and project staffing. Children under five who are not eligible for the vaccine are required to isolate for 10 days following a covid + close contact. Each isolation takes a minimum of one parent out of the workforce for 10 days, and often entire households. The potential risks of long-term disease following infection in young children remain unknown. Children have been asked not to meet grandparents, engage in playdates or attend many scheduled activities for almost two years now. They cannot protect themselves against COVID-19 with vaccinations, so why are we not doing everything we can to protect our children and the predominantly-female workforce that is entrusted with their care? 

In an attempt to fill this gaping hole and obtain a snaphot of the past and current state of COVID-19 infections in Mantioba's childcare sector, we are collecting data from facilities. Our surveys are open to responses from centres and home daycares, licensed and unlicensed facilities. 

Our initial survey was open from January 6-January 13th. We asked questions about the COVID infections and isolations in children and staff, the resources that have been received from the province, the resources that are currently required, and an open-ended question that asked "Is there anything else you would like to tell us". We received 332 responses before conducting initial quantitative and qualitative analyses. We received an additional 30 responses before the survey was closed. Our initial report on these findings is below.

On January 18 we reopened the ELCC survey to weekly responses to track illness, isolation, and facility/cohort closures through the omicron wave. We ask interested facilities (to fill out this survey each week between Tuesday and Thursday. To try and avoid duplicate entries please assign one person from a facility to fill it out. Please share this initiative widely within your network. 

Access weekly tracking survey HERE.

Below you will find links to a series of infographics and a high level document that highlight major findings from our initial analysis. We are currently working on writing a more in-depth article for publication. Starting on Friday, January 21 we will be publishing weekly analysis.

Contact information and more details about the research team is at the bottom.
​Requests from the media can be directed to Dr. Aleeza Gerstein.