Child Care Centres and COVID-19

Public Health aims to promote the health and wellbeing of children and staff to ensure that child care centres operate in the safest and healthiest way possible. In addition to the requirements set out in the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 and its regulations, as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, child care centres are also required to follow the advice and direction of Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Public Health Sudbury & Districts expects the child care sector  ( Government of Ontario) to put measures in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.


Visit our COVID-19 page for information on symptoms, self-isolation, and where to get tested for COVID-19.

Outbreaks in Child Care Centres

Public Health will post information about outbreaks of COVID-19 in licensed child care centres when they are declared. This information is updated as it becomes available.

What’s on this page


Child care workers

All individuals must self-screen every day before arriving at the child care centre. If you are a child care worker and have symptoms of COVID-19, immediately self-isolate (learn how), notify your employer or occupational health and safety department, and seek testing for COVID-19. Staff can use the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool every morning before attending work. It is also recommended to complete the screening tool on weekends, especially if symptoms develop. Child care centres must have a process in place to validate the daily self-screening of staff, placement students and visitors. At minimum, daily confirmation of having self-screened (i.e., proof of completed paper copy, mobile application indicating a “pass”) is required prior to and upon entry.

Staff presenting with new symptoms compatible with COVID-19, including atypical symptoms, must be rapidly identified, investigated and managed, including ensuring access to testing. Staff awaiting test results should not attend work and must remain in self isolation until results are received. Those with symptoms should contact their assessment centre to book an appointment.


Attendance recording

Cleaning and disinfecting

Frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily. Frequently touched surfaces include, but are not limited to toilet fixtures, faucets, doorknobs, light switches, handles, phones, keyboards, handrails etc. Keep a log of when cleaning occurs. Centres should also refer to the Ounce of Prevention Manual (PDF) for recommendations on cleaning and disinfecting in child care centres.
Provide only toys that can be cleaned and disinfected. Where possible have designated toys and equipment for each group. Where toys and equipment are shared, they must be cleaned and disinfected between groups. Where outdoor toys are shared, these too should be cleaned and disinfected between groups. Large play structures do not require cleaning and disinfecting, however, hand hygiene after outdoor play and after the use of shared play structures is essential.
Other frequent cleaning steps include, but are not limited to:

Hand hygiene

Handwashing ( Public health Ontario) is one of the best way to prevent the spread of infection. Proper handwashing significantly reduces the spread of germs. When you wash your hands, you wash away the germs that you may have picked up from other people or from surfaces.

When hands are not visibly soiled, the use of an alcohol-based hand rub with a concentration of at least 60% alcohol is acceptable. However, hand washing using soap and water is recommended over alcohol-based hand rub for children. Staff and children need to wash their hands thoroughly and often so that handwashing becomes a lifelong habit. For handwashing resources and videos for child care centers visit our resources page.

Perform proper hand hygiene (including assisting children with hand hygiene) especially:

Physical distancing

While it is recognized that physical distancing may be challenging in child care settings, physical distancing of at least 2 meters must be maintained between groups and, where possible, should be encouraged between children within the same group. Here are some helpful considerations:

Recognizing that physical distancing is difficult with small children and infants, additional suggestions include:

Masks and personal protective equipment (PPE)

Expectation for adults:

See Public Health Ontario for information on how to properly wear and take off PPE.

Expectations for children:

Children under the age of two should not wear a mask/face covering

Reasonable exceptions to the requirement to wear masks are expected to be put in place by licensees. Exceptions to wearing masks indoors could include circumstances where a physical distance of at least 2 metres can be maintained between individuals, situations where a child cannot tolerate wearing a mask, reasonable exceptions for medical conditions, etc. (See our Frequently Asked Questions on Face Coverings).

COVID-19 Symptoms in children

If a child develops symptoms at home:

If a child develops symptoms while at a Child Care Centre:

This document “What to do: if a child is ill during school or day care hours” provides a step-by-step road map on the steps child care centres should take if a child is ill during day care hours.

Symptomatic children awaiting test results must self-isolate at home away from other household members. Note that if the sick child is young and cannot isolate apart from other household members, a parent or caregiver must also isolate with the child away from other household members.

COVID-19 symptoms in staff

All staff members should self-screen every morning before attending the child care centre.  Staff member can use the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool.  If a staff develops symptoms at home, staff should:

If a staff develops symptoms while at work:

Symptomatic staff awaiting test results must self-isolate at home away from other household members.

Close contact definition in child care setting

In the context of child care settings, it is important to apply these definitions conservatively in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although exceptions may apply, in general the following applies in these settings:

Public Health will make direct contact with those identified as being close contacts of a case.

Testing and Test results

Children or staff with at least one symptom of COVID-19 should be tested.

Asymptomatic individuals do not need to be tested (with exceptions). Learn more about who is eligible for testing

Negative test result or testing not recommended:
Children or staff who test negative for COVID-19 and have not been identified as a close contact of a COVID case or if testing is not recommended and/or an alternative diagnosis is provided, may return to school/daycare if they meet the following criteria:

Please note that mild symptoms known to persist in young children (e.g. runny nose or mild cough that may persist following infections) may be ongoing at time of return to school/child care if other symptoms are resolved.

Close contacts can discontinue self-isolation if .

Positive test result:
Those who test positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from child care centre until clearance has been received from public health. of this person must continue to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days from last known exposure and notify public health should symptoms develop.

Public Health will provide further advice about information that should be shared with other staff and parents or guardians in the event there is a case or outbreak of COVID-19 in the child care centre.

Testing recommended, but test not obtained:

If testing is recommended by your health care provider and/or the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Children in School and Child care and testing is not done, the child/staff member must stay home and self-isolate away from other household members for 10 days from when their symptoms started. They may return to school/daycare after 10 full days since the symptoms started as long as they do not have a fever and their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours from last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea).


In general, daycares should not report all instances of ill individuals in the child care setting to Public Health.  They should call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200, ext. 553 if:

Summer FAQ for licensed child care centers and day camps

If you are a daycare or summer camp operator, you may have some questions about how COVID-19 regulations impact your summertime activities. Get answers in our Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 617 KB).

This item was last modified on July 13, 2021