Resources for Child Care Centres and Day Camps

Child care settings can submit the Absent Staff and Children Reporting Form for Child Care Centres when their setting hits 30 per cent absenteeism above the baseline.

Please note: The purpose of this form is to report childcare absenteeism of children/staff that rises to 30 per cent above baseline. Each childcare should consider what a baseline absenteeism rate would be for their setting and report to public health ONLY when they reach 30 per cent absenteeism above that baseline.

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Child care centres and early years’ settings guidance

On March 21, 2021, the Province of Ontario lifted the majority of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions and archived the Operational Guidance documents for Child Care and EarlyON centres. Children and staff experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must complete the provincial screening tool to determine if they are able to attend the facility. The province has also released and updated case and contact management guidance document.

Child care setting operators are advised to continue monitoring Ontario Ministry of Education, Ontario Ministry of Health and Region of Waterloo Public Health websites for the most up-to-date guidance and to access other helpful resources.

Licensed child care centres, extended day programs and other early years’ settings will be permitted to open at full capacity while operating under enhanced health and safety requirements. For more information on this sector visit the Province of Ontario website.

Ontario's child welfare agencies continue to operate. Visit Family and Children's Services of the Waterloo Region for information on how you can help during the pandemic.

For the most up to date information please review the following documents from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health:

Reporting for symptomatic staff/children

Child care setting operators are no longer required to report a child or staff person who become sick while attending the child care setting.

Any child or staff that has tested positive on a Rapid Antigen Test or PCR no longer needs to report this to public health and are advised to follow the guidance provided in the case and contact website for directions on isolation. If there is a symptomatic child or staff, please refer to the case and contact website for directions on isolation and/or symptom monitoring.

Frequently asked questions

Health and safety measures

What are the requirements for daily screening? 
Daily confirmation of screening for children and staff/provider is no longer required by the child care operators. Individuals should continue to self-screen every day before attending child care using the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool
Where can I find more information about face covering and other PPE guidance and requirements? 

Please refer to Region of Waterloo Face Coverings webpage for information on face coverings guidance exemptions. There are no restrictions from Public Health on whether any N95 masks that are used must be the ones provided by the Ministry. N95 fit testing is not provided by Public Health and is at the expense of the individual. Various companies that provide this service can be found by searching online.

Masks are no longer required for staff, providers or any other individual (including children) at the child care or on transportation. Eye protection for staff will also no longer be required. As some children, staff/providers may choose to continue to wear masks or eye protection, the government will continue to provide free masks and eye protection.

Many children and staff may choose to continue to wear masks at times, or consistently. We encourage child care operators to promote respectful, welcoming and inclusive practices and communications within their communities.

Child care operators must check federal travel requirements, where upon return from international travel, individuals may need to wear a mask for a given time period. For up-to-date federal travel requirements please refer to COVID-19 Travel: Checklists for requirements and exemptions 

What are the cohorting and distancing guidance? 
Cohorting and distancing is no longer required for indoor or outdoor activities. Child care operators are required to ensure ratios, group sizes, reduced ratios and mixed age groupings meet the requirements under the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA), as well as any conditions set out on their licence. 

Case and contact management

What are operators required to do if there is one or more cases in the child care setting? 

Child Care setting operators are no longer required to report to local public health a child or staff person who becomes sick while attending the child care setting. 

If the threshold of 30 per cent above baseline is hit, child care operators can notify public health by reporting via the Absent Staff and Children Reporting Form for Child Care Centres. Each child care setting should consider what a baseline/normal absenteeism rate would be and report when they reach 30 per cent above that.

The Ministry of Education requires child care settings send a template notification to families about public health measures once absenteeism hits 30 per cent above baseline. This template has been provided to child care settings and will be sent by the child care operator.

Public health is no longer dismissing cohorts or declaring outbreaks in a child care setting for COVID-19. “Significant event” reporting should continue to be reported as per Ministry direction.

Who would be a close contact if a child tests positive or develops symptoms and they were in the child care setting during their infectious period? 

Child care operators should refer to the updated COVID-19 Integrated Testing and Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge Guidance.

Children and staff who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at a child care setting are generally not considered close contacts who require isolation given the robust public health measures and layering of controls in place. This includes: daily screening, cohorting, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols and practices, practicing good hand hygiene, and regular supervision. Wearing a properly fitted and well constructed cloth or non-medical mask is encouraged for children two years of age and older. However, specific individuals in those settings may be identified by the case as close contacts based on their prolonged, unprotected, close interactions with the case either in or outside of the setting. 

What are the guidelines for case and contact management? 

Child care operators are encouraged to refer and follow the COVID-19 Integrated Testing and Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge Guidance, for close contacts in the community and in households.

  • Asymptomatic individuals who are close contacts of a case or a symptomatic individual in the community are no longer required to isolate but must self-monitor for ten days following last exposure. During the self-monitoring period, close contacts must wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings and avoid activities where they need to take off their mask.
    • For children under two a well-fitted mask is not required. However, parents must monitor for symptoms for ten days following last exposure
  • Asymptomatic household contacts of a case or a symptomatic individual are also not required to isolate if they are 17 or younger and fully vaccinated; 18 and older and have already received their COVID-19 booster; or tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and have completed their isolation period.
  • Asymptomatic household contacts who are not required to isolate are also required to self-monitor for ten days following last exposure, as outlined above.
    • Children under five who are asymptomatic household contacts are required to stay home for five days 

Testing questions

When should Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) be used? 

RAT can be used for child care providers, staff and children if they are experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms.

Please follow the instructions for the specific test kit being used. If the first RAT is negative, please wait 24-48 hours between tests before doing another RAT.

Contact the Ministry of Education for guidance on reporting requirements. There is no requirement to report cases, contacts, or symptomatic children/staff/parents to Public Health nor is Public Health collecting/reporting on positive RAT results from childcare settings.  

Is PCR testing available for daycare centres and why is child care not classified as a high risk setting? 
The province sets policy on testing criteria and definitions on which settings are considered high risk. 
How long does a child have to isolate following a RAT or PCR test? 
Please refer to COVID-19 Integrated Testing and Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge Guidance
If people are unable to access PCR or RAT tests, how do we know who is positive? 
Please refer to COVID-19 Integrated Testing and Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge Guidance (page 12). If they have the symptoms in the flow chart, presume they are positive with Omicron. Also, please continue to use the provincial school screening tool to determine if children can attend day care if they become symptomatic. 


What is the COVID-19 vaccination disclosure policy? 

Child care operators are no longer required to have a COVID-19 vaccine disclosure policy in place and provincial requirements below are lifted:

  • Collecting proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, medical exemptions, or completion of an education program.
  • Asymptomatic screening requirements for individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination.
  • Reporting vaccination coverage to the Ministry of Education.

Unvaccinated individuals covered under child care operator’s vaccination policies will no longer be required to undertake rapid antigen screening three times per week.


What are the required ventilation measures? 

All child care operators including home child care providers are encouraged to implement best practices and measures to optimize ventilation (see Public Health Ontario’s guidance: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems in Buildings and COVID-19). Adequate ventilation should be provided by opening windows, moving activities outdoors when possible and through mechanical ventilation including HVAC systems.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVACs) and their filters are designed to reduce airborne pollutants, including virus particles, when they circulate through the system.

  • Ensure HVAC systems are in good working condition.
  • Keep areas near HVAC inlets and outlets clear.
  • Arrange furniture away from air vents and high airflow areas.
  • Avoid re-circulating air.

Cleaning and disinfection

What are the cleaning and disinfection requirements? 
For the minimum frequency of cleaning and disinfection, please refer to the Region of Waterloo’s Safe and Healthy Children: A Public Health Resource Manual for Child Care Providers

Helpful resources for child care settings

Screening Tool:
COVID-19 school and child care screening tool - Ontario Ministry of Health

Covid-19 Workplace Safety Plan
Please see the guide on developing a COVID-19 workplace safety plan for your facility.

Cleaning Child Care Settings
Hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers for COVID-19 – Health Canada
Cleaning and disinfection for public settings COVID-19 – Public Health Ontario
Safe and Healthy Children: A Public Health Resource Manual for Child Care Providers – Region of 

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette
How to wash your hands and Respiratory etiquette infographic – Public Health Ontario
How to wash your hands and How to use hand sanitizer – Region of Waterloo

Proper use of Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Public Health Ontario
Putting on Mask and Eye Protection – Public Health Ontario Video
Non-medical Masks and Face Coverings – Government of Canada
How to wear a face covering (mask) – Region of Waterloo

Additional resources


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