Complacency. It’s a dangerous concept isn’t it? More often than not, complacency is bound to happen. We get comfortable, we get less diligent, we let our guards down and when this happens, complacency has a way of creeping in. After a year and a half of a global pandemic, we are all subject to it.
I am proud and thankful for the superb work our families have done to keep us safe so far. Your efforts and patience are deeply valued and appreciated and have made a difference.
But we are all tired.
We’re tired of the masks, tired of the distance, tired of the isolation, and definitely tired of having our routines and schedules turned upside-down because of a runny nose or a sniffle. A runny nose, of all things, has been the one symptom that has caused the most upheaval and disruption. I know it has been so hard on parents who are looking at a runny nose and are thinking, “it’s just a runny nose!” This is even further compounded by the screening changes – one moment a runny nose is keeping you out of the centre and having to go get a COVID test, and the next week it’s off the screening and your child can attend with no issues? It does feel impossible to keep up at times!
I know the frustration. I started this blog last week and was writing about runny noses with the intent to reinforce the importance of adhering to the guidelines. As I returned to my writing this week, go figure that runny noses are off the screening! You start to feel like you can’t keep up!
But it actually doesn’t matter if runny noses are on the screening or not. The message remains the same: we must stay diligent and not allow complacency to creep in.
Our diligence has worked. As of today, we are officially 413 days COVID-free! We’ve been successful in keeping COVID out of our centre for over a year, which is truly amazing.
In order to operate child care in a global pandemic, I’ve had to get comfortable with the fact that COVID has a high chance of entering the centre, despite our best efforts. But I am so proud of all of you. You work with us as partners to ensure we realize this level of success. You keep us in your thoughts and choices outside the centre, you adhere to the Public Health guidelines, and most of you respect our request to wear masks when dropping off and picking up. Thank you! Thank you for keeping us safe while we care for your children. And especially of note, thank you for being patient and understanding when your child doesn’t pass screening.
I am also proud of our team who have been doing their part in keeping COVID out of Thistleoaks. No one comes to work with any hint of a symptom. Everyone follows the rules and regulations to the letter. It’s exhausting, but necessary. I won’t lie, it’s so tempting to pull back, just a little. We have had days when an educator didn’t pass screening due to a runny nose and we have almost had to close programs due to a lack of healthy team members. Those are the days temptation sings the loudest and I fleetingly ponder, 'will it really make a difference if we use an educator from a different program?' The truth is - it does matter. And it matters in a very big way. The ramifications of that runny nose that turns out to be COVID is monumental. The only way to battle the temptation is to identify and live out the worst case scenario. When you live out the ramifications of the worst case scenario, you realize it is always better to err on the side of caution.
I do have some wonderful news to share: As of today (August 31st) we have two staff waiting on their second dose and then we can proudly say that all permanent, contract, supply, and temporary team members have received both doses of the COVID vaccine.
This is such a huge milestone that I am so incredibly proud of our team here and to share this news with our families. Vaccines are such an important part of allowing us to come out of this pandemic; I encourage all of our families to get vaccinated, if you haven’t already. More information about vaccines and Thistleoaks’ policy around them will be coming in the next few weeks.
Despite all this, I must emphasize and reinforce the importance of following our screening measures and procedures.
We have had a few COVID scares here at Thistleoaks – someone identified as a close contact, someone with COVID symptoms, or an exposure – almost always occurring on a Friday night. I can’t tell you how agonizing those weekends are knowing there may have been a COVID exposure here; having to wait for confirmation one way or the other is brutal. Thankfully, so far, we have escaped, but those weekends, those nights and days, they’re filled with so many thoughts of all the families and our team members trying to live their lives with a slice of normalcy. To sit on that information is hellish; I find myself questioning everything, thinking of a million worst case scenarios, thinking of each child in the centre and their families, those that are medically fragile or are caretakers to compromised individuals. And in each COVID scare, we can trace it back to complacency.
This is why I write to you today: to warn of the dangers of complacency, of allowing the time and fatigue of the pandemic to cause you to relax and become less diligent, and to ask for continued patience already displayed in abundance.
The leadership team and I are working to assess how current conditions and legislation impact our delivery of quality care. We are figuring out how changing and relaxing some of our procedures will impact our program delivery (for example, removing table barriers, including singing in the programs, reintroducing soft furnishings). We will also explore how increasing service hours affects our overall health situation.
We do need your help to ensure no one gets complacent.
This includes, but is not limited to:
Complete the Ontario Ministry for Health’s school and daycare screening tool truthfully each day before drop-off (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/) and showing the green check to the person at the door
Remember you cannot send your child to the centre if anyone in your household is waiting on a COVID test result (which includes waiting for a COVID appointment that’s been scheduled)
Remember you cannot send your child to the centre if anyone in your household displays any symptoms of COVID (as per the screening tool)
Wear your mask when on Thistleoaks property, particularly during drop-off when your temperature is being taken (our staff cannot be six feet away from you and still take your temperature)
With the highly contagious Delta variant accounting for about 75% of COVID cases, take your child for a COVID test if they display any symptoms, even if the symptom has since cleared; while not strictly required by legislation, we request all families to err on the side of extreme caution when it comes to any symptoms, despite the disruption it can cause
With schools reopening for in-person instruction next week, continuing to work together will ensure we amplify diligence and conquer complacency.
As always, the leadership team and myself are available to respond to any questions or concerns.
We love our families and are so thankful for your efforts.
Let’s keep it up!