It has been a difficult week filled with exhaustion and stress at Simcoe Child Care in Innisfil in the face of staff shortages brought on by Omicron’s rapid growth.
While Ontario schools are closed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 variant, daycares remain open.
On Monday, 12 of 40 staff at Simcoe Childcare Services were unable to come to work because they were showing symptoms of the virus, had tested positive, or had been exposed to someone who had.
“It has been difficult. We are dealing with a small staff,” said center director Kim Yeaman.
The center did not have enough employees to meet the provincial ratios of employees to children.
“One of the things we had to do is cut the hours in two classrooms on Tuesday shorter. Call the parents in the morning and tell them they couldn’t bring their kids here until 8 am,” Yeaman says. .
She says things have gradually improved as more staff come out of isolation, but classroom closures could be considered if staffing levels worsen.
The Department of Education provided child care providers with rapid antigen test kits to screen for unvaccinated staff.
Yeaman only has enough kits to last seven days.
She says the ministry has promised to try and get faster testing for daycare operators, but it’s unclear how long she may have to wait.
“At this point we don’t have a definitive answer, and if there is a shortage then I’m not sure these tests will be available to us.”
Even with the kits in high demand, Yeaman would like rapid testing to be extended to vaccinated staff and children in the daycare, who she says are often unmasked and too young to be vaccinated.