The day care had not charged parents for absences if a child was sent home or kept away with COVID-19 symptoms since a council resolution in August, even if they were not tested for the virus. At the time, a single symptom was all that was needed for a child to be sent home, where they would need to stay for at least 14 days.
But Daycare Services director Jennifer Drury told councillors at a January meeting the testing system and health unit recommendations had changed. She said children needed to exhibit two or more symptoms to be sent home, and could return 24 to 48 hours after those symptoms had resolved.
“We have encountered problems with children staying home without being charged since it’s not always possible to distinguish between a Covid-19 absence and a regular absence if parents do not advise or specify,” she said in a report to the council. “It has been difficult to manage.”
Prior to the pandemic, the daycare had charged parents in full for enrolments, including absent and sick days. Drury asked that the policy be reinstated, with the exception of absences when children were awaiting a COVID test result. In her report to council, she said the day care had lost $8310 in revenue between September and December 2020, while expenses had risen due to extra staff required for screening and disinfection.
Drury said children who were sick would still not be able to return to daycare until their symptoms had resolved, a policy that predated the pandemic. “Every time we send a child home, we’re in contact with the health unit, and the health unit contacts the parent,” she said. “The child doesn’t return until the health unit tells them they can.”
Other day care services in the area continued to charged for COVID absences, Drury noted in her report. Councillors voted unanimously to change the policy at the January 14 meeting.