Child care and day camps
These protocols are for child care providers and day camp operators. These employers may also benefit from reviewing protocols related to office space.
This information is based on the BC Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings. For more information on the measures, visit the BCCDC’s Child Care webpage.
Developing a COVID-19 Safety Plan
Employers are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the policies, guidelines, and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors in identifying protocols for their workplace.
The COVID-19 Safety Plan follows the six steps outlined on Industry-specific information. You can also refer to the COVID-19 Safety Plan OHS Guideline for information about developing a safety plan, including the level of detail required and use of supporting documentation.
Employers are not required to submit plans to WorkSafeBC for approval, but in accordance with the order of the provincial health officer, this plan must be posted at the worksite and on their website, if they have one. During a WorkSafeBC inspection, we will ask employers about the steps they have taken to protect their workers and to see their plan.
One part of developing your COVID-19 Safety Plan is identifying protocols that everyone at the workplace must follow to keep workers safe. We’ve provided industry-specific protocols below to consider as you develop the plan for your workplace.
These protocols are not a list of requirements; however, they should be considered and implemented to the extent that they address the risks your workplace. You may need to identify and implement additional protocols if the protocols suggested here do not sufficiently address the risk to your workers.
Understanding the risk
The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads in several ways, including through droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, and from touching a contaminated surface before touching the face. Higher risk situations require adequate protocols to address the risk.
- The risk of person-to-person transmission is increased the closer you come to other people, the amount of time you spend near them, and the number of people you come near. Physical distancing measures help mitigate this risk.
- The risk of surface transmission is increased when many people contact same surface, and when those contacts happen in short intervals of time. Effective cleaning and hygiene practices help mitigate this risk.
Selecting protocols for your workplace
Note that different protocols offer different protection. Wherever possible, use the protocols that offer the highest level of protection and add additional protocols as required.
First level protection (elimination): Limit the number of people in your workplace where possible by implementing work-from-home arrangements, establishing occupancy limits, rescheduling work tasks, or other means. Rearrange work spaces to ensure that workers are at least 2 m (6 ft) from co-workers, customers, and members of the public.
Second level protection (engineering controls): If you can’t always maintain physical distancing, install barriers such as plexiglass to separate people.
Third level protection (administrative controls): Establish rules and guidelines, such as cleaning protocols, telling workers to not share tools, or implementing one-way doors or walkways.
Fourth level protection (PPE): If the first three levels of protection aren’t enough to control the risk, consider the use of masks. Ensure masks are selected and cared for appropriately and that workers are using masks correctly.
Protocols for child care and day camps
- Implement a policy stating that workers, children, parents, and caregivers must not enter the workplace if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days or are required by public health to self-isolate. Communicate this policy to workers, parents, and caregivers. Post signage at entrances to the workplace reminding people of this policy.
- Implement daily health checks:
- At drop off, implement a daily “yes/no” verbal confirmation that children are not sick or required by public health to self-isolate.
- For workers, ensure that a daily health check is completed as required by the provincial health officer’s Order on Workplace Safety. See our worker health checks page for more information. Daily health checks should also be completed by other adults entering the child care setting.
- If a worker or child (parent or caregiver) indicates that symptoms are consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition and are not unusual for that individual, the individual can continue to attend the child care setting. A note from a health care provider is not required.
- Develop procedures for those who become sick in the child care setting to go home as soon as possible. Detailed guidance for this can be found in Appendix A on page 10 of the Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings. Procedures should include identification of a space where the child or worker can wait which is safe and separated from others. This may include being in the same room as others as long as the individual is at least 2 metres from others and wears a mask if they are able to. Provide training to workers on these procedures.
- When an individual can return to the child care setting depends on the type of symptoms they experienced, as outlined in BCCDC’s When to get tested for COVID-19 resource.
- If a test is not recommended (i.e., the guidance is to "stay home until you feel better"), the individual can return when their symptoms improve and they feel well enough to participate in all activities.
- If a test is recommended (i.e., the guidance includes "get tested"), the individual must stay home until they receive their test result. If the test is negative, they can return when symptoms improve and they feel well enough. If the test is positive, they must follow direction from public health on when they can return.
- Use telephone or video conferencing when possible to meet with workers, parents and caregivers, and other adults.
- Limit visitors to the facility to those supporting activities that are of benefit to the children’s learning and wellbeing. Keep a list of the date, names, and contact information for all visitors. All adult visitors should wear a mask when in the setting.
- Practicum students should follow the employer’s COVID-19 Safety Plan, like any other worker.
- Drop off and pick up should occur outside of the child care setting where the age of the child and building design make this reasonably practicable.
- Implement strategies to ensure physical distancing is maintained at drop-off and pick-up areas. Consider staggered drop-off and pick-up times, using multiple entrance points if available, and placing markers at entrance points to support physical distancing.
- Where parents or caregivers must enter the child care setting for drop off or pick up:
- Designate an area within the facility for this.
- Direct them to maintain physical distance from workers and other children, and practice hand hygiene. Where this is not possible, for example when transferring a very young child between a parent and a worker, plan and communicate the work task in advance to ensure that time spent in close proximity is minimized.
- If parents or caregivers have to enter the facility at pick up or drop off, establish a policy that only one parent or caregiver enters the facility.
- Avoid close greetings such as hugs and handshakes.
- Establish hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene protocols for everyone in the workplace.
- Set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance to the workplace. Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations where a sink is not available. Ensure there is an adequate supply of hand washing supplies and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Children should be supervised or assisted when using hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should not be used on infants. Some hand sanitizers are for adults only because they contain ingredients that are not safe for children, so labels should be read carefully. More information on the proper use of hand sanitizers is available on the BCCDC’s website.
- Workers should practice hand hygiene regularly throughout the day, including:
- When they arrive at the workplace and before they go home
- Before and after handling food (raw, cooked or pre-packaged), preparing bottles or feeding children
- Before and after eating and drinking
- Before and after giving or applying medication or ointment to a child or self
- After changing diapers
- After assisting a child to use the toilet
- After using the toilet
- After contact with body fluids (e.g., runny noses, spit, vomit, blood)
- Before donning and after doffing personal protective equipment
- After cleaning tasks
- After handling garbage
- Whenever hands are visibly dirty
- Support children to practice hand hygiene regularly throughout the day, including:
- When they arrive at the workplace and before they go home
- Before and after eating and drinking
- After a diaper change
- After using the toilet
- After playing outside
- After handling pets and animals
- After sneezing or coughing
- Whenever hands are visibly dirty
- Provide education and direction to workers and children to:
- Cough or sneeze into their elbow sleeve or a tissue.
- Throw away used tissues and immediately perform hand hygiene.
- Not touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Workers should maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from each other and other adults. Where this is not possible, for example when transferring a very young child from one worker to another, plan and communicate the work task in advance to ensure that time spent in close proximity is minimized.
- Establish and post occupancy limits for common areas such as break rooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. Arrange common areas in a way that allows at least 2 metres of physical distance between each worker.
- Stagger worker break times.
- Avoid unnecessary physical contact between workers and children and minimize close, prolonged, face-to-face interactions.
- It is not necessary to attempt to eliminate close contact between children, however everyone should be encouraged to spread out as much as possible within the space available. Consider:
- Forming a number of separate play areas in order to space children apart. Note that children who live in the same home do not need to maintain physical distance from each other.
- Incorporating activities involving books, individual games, video, and online games to encourage individual play.
- Organizing snack/meal areas and times to space children apart.
- Organizing nap areas to space children apart and placing children head-to-toe or toe-to-toe.
- Consider applying cohorting principles to minimize the mixing of different children and workers. Many small groups are better than fewer large groups where possible. For larger child care settings that have more than one care program, consider each program a cohort.
- Minimize the number of different workers that interact with the same child or group of children.
- Remove unnecessary items from the workplace to reduce surfaces that could become contaminated. Frequently touched items that cannot be easily cleaned should be limited to those that support learning, health, and development. Support children to practice hand hygiene before and after using items that are harder to clean. No additional precautions are required for paper and paper-based products.
- Identify all common areas (e.g., washrooms) and frequently-touched surfaces (e.g., door knobs, cupboard handles, light switches, faucet handles, tables, chairs, toys). Develop and implement a cleaning and disinfection schedule and procedures in accordance with the BCCDC’s Cleaning and Disinfectants for Public Settings document, using a product from Health Canada’s hard-surface disinfectants.
- General cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace should occur at least once every 24 hours.
- Frequently-touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least twice every 24 hours. At least one of these cleanings should occur during hours of operation.
- Clean and disinfect any surface that is visibly dirty.
- Toys and objects that children have placed in their mouths should be set aside, for example in a “to be washed” bin, until they are cleaned and disinfected. Toy, objects, and surfaces known to have been in contact with bodily fluids should be cleaned between uses by different children.
- Clean and disinfect cots, cribs, and sleeping surfaces weekly if dedicated to a single child or between uses if shared between multiple children. Keep each child’s bedding separate, and consider storing in individually labeled bins, cubbies, or bags. Cots and mats should be labeled for each child. Bedding that touches a child’s skin should be cleaned weekly or before use by another child.
- Clean and disinfect changing stations after each use.
- When holding young children, for example when feeding or rocking to sleep, use a blanket or cloth to cover clothing. Change blankets or cloths between children.
- Empty garbage containers daily at a minimum.
- If a worker or child leaves the workplace due to symptoms of COVID-19, clean areas those individuals were in, including surfaces they may have touched, immediately upon their departure.
- Maintain an adequate supply of cleaning and disinfection products and materials.
- Where PPE has been identified for tasks prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to use this PPE when performing these tasks.
- Wear disposable gloves when cleaning body fluids (e.g., runny nose, vomit, stool, urine) and when changing diapers.
- Determine what PPE may be required for workers who are responsible for cleaning and disinfection. Read product labels and Safety Data Sheets to help make this determination.
- Refer to the Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings for guidance on when to use masks and face coverings.
- Food and beverages should not be shared by workers or children.
- Workers and children can bring their own reusable food and drink containers for personal use. Personal containers should be washed daily.
- Clean and sanitize shared reusable dishware, glasses, and utensils after each use.
- Limit sharing of supplies and equipment (e.g., pens, telephone, tablets, computer mouse) between workers.
- Prevent the sharing of soothers, bottles, sippy cups, toothbrushes or other personal items. Label personal items with the child’s name to prevent accidental sharing.
- Provide adequate amounts of high touch materials, such as art supplies, in order to minimize sharing between children.
- Include the use of outdoor space when possible, including play time, snack/meal time, and for learning activities.
- Ensure heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are working properly. Opening windows can increase air ventilation where it is safe to do so, weather permits, and HVAC system function will not be negatively impacted. For more information, see WorkSafeBC guidance on general ventilation and air circulation.
- Clean and disinfect buses and vans in accordance with the BCCDC’s Cleaning and Disinfectants for Public Settings. Additional guidance is available from Transport Canada.
- Drivers should clean their hands often, including before and after completing trips. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer during trips.
- Children should clean their hands before and after being in a bus or van.
- Prioritize children sharing a seat with a member of their household. Consistent and assigned seating arrangements should be used where possible. If space is available, each child should have their own seat and sit beside the window to increase the amount of space between children.
See the following links for additional information, guidance, or resources that may assist you in the development of your plan.
- BC Centre for Disease Control: Public Health Guidance for Childcare Settings (updated February 12, 2021)
- BC Centre for Disease Control: Cleaning and Disinfectants for Public Settings
- Transport Canada: Federal Guidance for School Bus Operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- WorkSafeBC: COVID-19 frequently asked questions: General ventilation and air circulation
A PDF version of the industry protocols is available for printing.
For more information
The information on this page is based on current recommendations and may change. For the latest guidance, please see the health information from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and the latest news from the government of British Columbia.
If you have a question or concern
Workers and employers with questions or concerns about workplace exposure to COVID-19 can call WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line at 604.276.3100 in the Lower Mainland (toll-free within B.C. at 1.888.621.SAFE). You’ll be able to speak to a prevention officer to get answers to your questions, and if required, a prevention officer will be assigned to assess the health and safety risk at your workplace.