COVID-19: B.C. daycare expels five-year-old child after father questions isolation protocol

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COVID-19: B.C. daycare expels five-year-old child after father questions isolation protocol
© Provided by Vancouver Sun Nanaimo resident Dillon Wiebe with his son Arlee, 5.

Dillon Wiebe has happily taken his five-year-old son, Arlee, to the same daycare for three years now.

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As of this week, the father is no longer allowed inside the Nanaimo child care centre after he asked question about the company’s decision not to adopt the province’s new self-isolation protocols for children who have come into close contact with COVID-19 cases.

Jolly Giant Childcare, which operates five daycares in the city, decided to terminate its dealings with the father Monday.

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“We do not want any further communication with you,” said Sacha Fellers, manager of Jolly Giant, in an email. “You have expressed in emails that you disagree with our pandemic health, illness and exposure policies.”

In an email seen by Postmedia, the daycare informed Wiebe that Arlee would be permitted to attend the daycare while the child was in his mother’s care, as she is the enrolling parent, but that “he may not attend when in (Wiebe’s) care.”

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The 41-year-old, a Canada Post carrier, saw the email correspondence as he was suiting up his son for daycare.

“I don’t know why the daycare thinks I’m not on board with their health policies,” said the father who paid in advance the monthly amounts for his son’s daycare. “I just want everyone to follow the provincial health guidelines.”

Guidelines released Jan. 19 by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control now permit children who are close contacts of COVID-19 patients to return to daycare without quarantining if they are symptom-free. “Staff or children who are exposed to COVID-19 may continue to attend child care, regardless of vaccination status,” they read.

Previously, a child in a daycare exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 had to quarantine for 10 days.

Wiebe was told Wednesday by his son’s daycare, which has a 10-day quarantine policy, that Arlee was a close contact of someone with the virus.

An email exchange obtained by Postmedia shows that four days later, on Jan. 23, the father asked the daycare some questions.

“Will daycare be open for Arlee tomorrow? If not, will I be charged for today and tomorrow? The government has stated Arlee is able to attend,” he questioned by email.

Since Jolly Giant decided to terminate his son’s contract, the father has been scrambling to find another child care space.

“How is it possible a daycare can refuse essential service care to a single parent and full-time essential service worker and then terminate care when I ask questions?”

The Nanaimo daycare said in a Jan. 20 letter to parents that the removal of quarantine periods cannot be quickly adopted by its daycares.

“At this time, we need more clarification from the government and health professionals. We also need time to consult with the wonderful early childhood educators on how to implement these changes without compromising their safety or your children.”

Instead, the company plans to consider adapting to the new guidelines following a meeting this week where provincial health professionals answer parents’ and child-care providers’ questions about the changes.

In an email the province sent to daycares on Jan. 19, it told them to “please take time to consider the changes in the guidelines and update your internal policies over the coming days,” according to Jolly Giant’s website .

Wiebe remains concerned that B.C. daycares might choose to stall their turnover to B.C.’s protocols to turn a larger profit.

“There’s nothing to stop B.C. daycares from claiming COVID-19 exposures and keeping both children and staff home while having already received full payments from parents,” Wiebe said. “There is no oversight.”

Jolly Giant Childcare did not respond to Postmedia’s request for comment.

Five things parents should know about daycare and COVID guidelines:

• Children younger than five are exempt from province mask-wearing requirements.

• Infants under two years of age should not wear masks as it may make it difficult for them to breathe and may become a choking hazard.

• Child-care administrators are to ensure parents and caregivers are aware that their children should not go to daycare if they are sick or are required to self-quarantine.

• Children who become sick are to go home as soon as possible.

• Adults in child care settings are required to wear a mask at all times while indoors, with few exceptions.

sgrochowski@postmedia.com

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