'It's impossible:' daycare workers prepare to reopen, raise concerns over socially distancing toddlers

Daycares outside of Montreal are scheduled to reopen on Monday but many workers said they are worried they may not be ready.

Quebec Association of Daycares spokesperson Marie-Claude Lemieux said getting enough masks to daycares in remote areas has been a challenge.

“We had to call out the ambulances, call out to the CIUSSS and CUSS and we were able to manage to get enough masks and visors for at least the next two weeks,” she said.

At Bishop's University's Panda Daycare in Lennoxville, staff said physical distancing recommendations are proving difficult to implement.

“To be quite honest, it's difficult to adjust, especially when you're so used to being so hands on and close to the children,” said Angie Mason. “It's a difficult adjustment to make to keep a social distance.”

The Association of Daycares said 6,000 children have been care over the last seven weeks, with 38 COVID-19 cases reported and no fatalities. As of Monday, daycares will operate at half capacity and they've been given a list of workers such as police, soldiers and healthcare workers whose children get priority placement. Lemieux said that means there won't be enough space for all the children whose parents are returning to work.

“It will be difficult and I'm afraid that some people will have to be turned away for lack of capacity,” she said.

Lemieux called on parents who are able to work from home to keep their children with them for at least the next few weeks.

Daycare workers with health concerns will not return to work. Parents will also not be allowed into the buildings and staff will have to find ways to keep groups of toddlers from coming within six feet of each other.

“It's not only difficult, it's impossible,” said Lemieux.  

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