December 2021: We are working on a new virtual tour of our centre, as the previous virtual tour no longer represented what the inside looks like. Watch this space for the new one to be posted in early 2022!
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions about our COVID protocols. We are regularly updating our protocols in line with Regional and Provincial guidelines; this FAQ was last updated May 2021.
What are your current operating hours?
To support cohorting and to minimize staff in multiple classrooms, our current operating hours are 7:30am to 5:30pm. We regularly review updates to compliance guidelines and look forward to the restrictions reducing. Once government restrictions have been lifted, the centre will return to regular operating hours.
What measures will taken during drop-off and pickup to ensure social distancing?
Drop-offs prior to 9:00am: Families complete their screening at the main doors, then take their child to their cubby room door where a classroom educator will meet them. Masks are required on Thistleoaks property.
Drop-offs after 9:00am: Families complete their screening at the main doors, then take their child into their cubby room and drop them off at their program room. Masks are mandatory inside Thistleoaks. Families are not permitted to enter program spaces, and must maintain six feet of distance between educators and other families.
Pickups prior to 4:30pm: Families are to send a message to their classroom through HiMama and will meet their child at their cubby room door. Masks are required on Thistleoaks property.
Pickups after 4:30pm: Families can enter the building through their child's cubby door and collect their child from their cubby or program room. Masks are mandatory inside Thistleoaks. Families are not permitted to enter program spaces, and must maintain six feet of distance between educators and other families.
Will all staff be required to wear masks?
Yes, masks and protective eyewear are mandatory both indoors and outdoors at Thistleoaks whenever social distancing is not possible. In addition, masks are mandatory regardless of social distancing for any staff member preparing, plating, or delivering food. Both Public Health and the Ministry of Education will accept a medical exemption for masks and/or eyewear. Where a staff has provided a medical exemption, they will be reassigned to a role where there is minimal interaction with children and six feet distance can be maintained at all times.
Is there really no School Age program?
At this time, our school age and JK/SK programs remain closed. We look forward to reopening them, hopefully in September 2022.
Are you offering part-time care?
We have reopened our programs to part-time placements. We are following our policies and will accept part-time children, as long as we have a match to fill the spot.
If I choose to withdraw, will I have to pay withdrawal fees?
During the Pandemic, we have reduced our withdrawal notice from one month to two weeks for all families. Parents are financially responsible for the two-week notice period, even if they have left.
How will staff encourage social distancing with younger children?
Each classroom has been set up to encourage independent play at various stations. Floor decals have been put down to support independence and a variety of learning needs. We recognize that children of a young age may struggle with understanding and implementing social distancing. In order to allow a more relaxed, yet safe environment, we will keep strict cohorts within the programs.
What happens if a child shows symptoms of COVID-19 while at Thistleoaks?
Any child with symptoms, as well as any enrolled siblings, are removed from their program(s) and relocated to our designated ‘sick room’ in the rear front office. Parents/guardians are immediately notified to come pick up their child(ren) and will be directed to the Public Health Self-Assessment for COVID and follow the results of the assessment. Fees will not be reduced for the day.
What happens if a staff shows symptoms of COVID-19 while at Thistleoaks?
Staff showing any symptom(s) will be sent home and directed to the Public Health Self-Assessment for COVID and follow the results of the assessment. . Further direction will be given by Public Health. In the event that a staff goes home and we cannot run the program parents will be notified to come and pick up their child. Fees will not be reduced for the day.
If my child displayed symptoms, when can they return to Thistleoaks?
Families must complete Ontario's Online Screening Tool for School and Child Care daily. You can return to Thistleoaks when the screening tool gives you the green check mark.
If a child is upset or crying, will the educators allowed to comfort the child with things like hugs, picking up the child, and so on?
Yes, educators are able to pick up and comfort children. Educators are to wash their hands after holding a child.
Will there be circle time with books?
Yes, though only plastic and board books, as well as laminated books created by the educators, where the books can be sanitized after use.
Will children be sharing toys?
Yes, in a cohort. Children will wash their hands before starting an activity and then again when finishing an activity, giving confidence the played with toys are clean. All toys are taken midday for sanitizing. All mouthed or visibly dirty toys will be removed from the room immediately for sanitation.
What about outside play equipment?
We are able to offer our climbers to only one cohort at a time. The Sanitation Team will sanitize the climbers after use so that they are ready for the next cohort’s use.
What is the sanitation process for the toys?
Everything is sanitized using a three step process:
1) All toys are washed in warm, soapy water
2) The toys are then rinsed in a separate bin
3) The toys are sprayed with a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 100 parts water) and left to air-dry.
How is the cleanliness of the Centre being managed?
This is done through a combination of process:
All toys and equipment that cannot be sanitized have been removed from the classrooms
Our professional cleaners continue their nightly sanitation of the centre
During the day our Sanitation Team is responsible for sanitizing toys, equipment, rooms, and laundry; Joe is in charge of sanitizing all high-touch areas (door knobs, railings, etc.) and outdoor equipment
Educators sanitize books during sleep time, and washrooms after each use
It is important to note all our cleaning processes have been aligned with both Public Health and the Ministry of Educations guidelines to operating child care centres during COVID.
How are you managing children who are still putting everything in their mouths?
The same process as the child playing with any other toy – the toy is pulled from rotation and set aside for sanitation.
How will children playing together in a cohort work? Will they be permitted to do so? Can they play with the same toys at the same time?
Ideally, we want to find a balance between mitigating risk and exposure while still fostering a sense of belonging and connection. Educators will be encouraging activities where children work together but with their own materials. Children are washing their hands before and after activities and while it is our goal to mitigate risk through cooperative play, we recognize that social distancing is not a common practice children can maintain. One of our reasons for keeping such strict cohort rules is to give confidence both to parents and educators that the children in their room are healthy and social distancing (while the goal) can be more relaxed.
Are there any changes to diaper-changing or potty-training protocols?
No. The existing processes for handwashing and sanitizing the changing mat are adequate for the current climate.
How will rest or nap time work?
This process is broadly unchanged. Each room has plenty of space to ensure at least 6 feet between beds. Beds will be stored in individual labelled garbage bags to maintain cleanliness and limit contact between beds while in storage. The beds will be sanitized after each use, and bedding will be washed daily. Beds and cribs were already individually labelled prior to the closure.
Will children arriving early or late be moving rooms like before?
No. Children are not allowed to be in any space that is not their assigned room. This is a requirement as set out in the cohort guidelines.