Coronavirus: Saskatchewan releases guidelines for child-care facilities, churches to reopen

Guidelines have been released by the Saskatchewan government for child-care facilities and churches that are allowed to reopen under Phase 3 of the province’s reopening plan from the coronavirus pandemic.

The province previously announced details for restaurants, licensed establishments, gyms, fitness centres and personal services on May 21.

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Here is what you need to know for child-care facilities and places of worship that come into effect on June 8.

Child-care facilities

Child-care spaces defined in The Child Care Act can reopen, but are limited to a maximum of 15 children per building space.

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For larger facilities, the province said those can be reconfigured to allow a maximum of 15 children in one defined area.

Barriers must be placed to keep the groups separated that will prevent children, toys and other items from crossing over.

Proper child-to-adult ratios and usable floor space requirements under the act must be followed in either case.

Groups of children and staff assigned to them must stay together throughout the day, must stay in the same room or space at the same time and are not allowed to mix with other groups.

Facilities located at special care or personal care homes must have separate entrances and no interaction between children and residents is allowed.

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Pickup and drop off

Parents and caregivers dropping off and picking up their children should do so outside the facility, unless there is a need to enter. The province cited young children as an example.

In those cases, parents and caregivers must maintain proper social distancing from staff and other children.

Child-care facilities are being urged by the government to modify drop-off and pickup procedures, including limiting them only to one parent or guardian and staggering times.

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Pens should not be shared if children need to be signed in and out.

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Children who are sick are not allowed to attend child care.

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Staff and visitors

Non-essential visitors are not allowed to enter child-care facilities at this time, the government said.

Parents or guardians, essential services and persons supporting a child in care are permitted.

Staff must maintain proper physical distancing from each other at all times. If this is not possible, health officials said other measures such as staggering activities, alternating shift and break times, using markers or wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used.

Any employee who is sick is required to stay home.

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Health officials are encouraging facilities to have a workplace illness policy. If policies do not exist or are not in line with COVID-19 recommendations, facilities should ensure that all sick employees must stay home or be sent home from work.

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Cleaning and disinfecting

All items such as bedding and toys used by children each day must be removed from the play area and disinfected, or disinfected in place, the province said.

Any indoor space or structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between uses are not allowed to be used.

Structures used by more than one group can only be used by one group at a time and must be cleaned and disinfected before being used by another group.

Churches and places of worship

Initially, occupancy is limited to one-third of the defined occupancy rate of the facility, to a maximum of 30 people, the province said.

Seating (or designated worship space) must be arranged so that physical distancing can be observed at all times between individual households.

Health officials said consideration must be given to how people enter and exit pews and other seating areas and suggest marking the direction flow of people through the facility.

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When multiple gatherings are held on the same day, the start and end times must allow those attending one gathering to exit safely to avoid contact with those arriving for the next gathering.

Common surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected between services.

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High-risk activities

Handshaking or passing objects between individuals is not permitted, the province said. This includes the passing of offering baskets.

Books and other common-use items should be removed from use, if possible, and must be disinfected if used. Books or items that can’t be disinfected should be removed and held for 72 hours before being brought back into use.

Microphones cannot be shared between individuals due to the difficulty of cleaning and disinfecting these devices.

Singing is not recommended by health officials at this time as the virus can be transmitted through saliva or respiratory droplets. They said one documented COVID-19 outbreak resulted in the spread of the virus to 87 per cent of choir attendees from one infected person.

If singing does occur, the participants must wear masks.

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Where leaders of services are required to sing, they must increase the distance from the congregation to prevent transmission of respiratory droplets and/or wear a mask.

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Any ceremony or ritual involving physical contact between individuals, such as the handling of the Torah scroll or baptism, should be modified to maintain physical distancing. Where physical distancing is not possible, participants are required to mitigate the risk by wearing PPE and increased hand hygiene.

Officials said the celebration of communion raises specific challenges because of the possibility of inadvertently transmitting the virus. Faith communities centred on a communion ritual must exercise extreme caution if they wish to proceed with offering communion.

Denominations or families of churches wishing to offer communion at this time are required to develop protocols by which the communion can be offered in a way that safeguards the health of the communicants and celebrants. The use of a common cup is not permissible.

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Full details of Phase 3 of the province’s reopening plan can be found at the government’s COVID-19 website.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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