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The state of COVID-19 in early learning child care facilities in Manitoba

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

Excerpted from report

Why are we doing this?

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 and 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?