COVID-19: Parent Guide

COVID-19: Parent Guide

Communication with Families

Pathways Academy will provide communication to families regarding the enhancement of health and safety measures in order to facilitate transparency of expectations. Our new policies will be shared with families, for their information and to ensure they are aware of the expectations, including keeping children home when they are sick, which are aimed at helping to keep all children and staff safe and healthy.

Access to Child Care Spaces and Prioritizing Families

When determining prioritization of limited childcare spaces, Pathways will consider the following:

  • Returning children served through emergency childcare to their original placement and continuity of service for these families;
  • Care for families where parents must return to work and that work outside of the home;
  • Families with special circumstances that would benefit from children returning to care, such as children with special needs; and
  • Other local circumstances.

Pathways will communicate to families via surveys & forms to gauge the current needs of families for our summer program and September.

Maximum Cohort Size and Ratio*

  • A cohort is defined as a group of children and the staff members assigned to them, who stay together throughout the duration of the program for minimum 7 days.
  • Maximum cohort size for each room will consist of no more than 10 individuals permitted per room (including staff in the room).
    • Maximum capacity rules do not apply to Resource Consultants supporting the program or Special Needs Resource staff on site (i.e., if they are not counted towards staff to child ratios, they are not included in the maximum capacity rules).
  • Each cohort must stay together throughout the day and are not permitted to mix with other cohorts.
  • Pathways is required to maintain ratios set out under the CCEYA.
  • * Cohort size may change as directed by the Ministry of Education, based on the impact of the pandemic in our region
  • **NEW**  As of July 27th, the cohorts have been increased to 15 students / week.


Staff Training & Working with Local Public Health

In collaboration with local public health, Pathways Academy will:

  • ensure that training is provided to all staff members on the health, safety and other operational measures outlined in the documents provided by the Ministry of Education plus any additional local requirements in place by the Niagara Region Public Health Department prior to re-opening.
  • keep up to date with the Ministry of Education and public health guidelines and recommendations and make changes to protocols when needed

While the ministry is providing guidance on how to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pathways, must follow the advice of local public health officials when establishing health and safety protocols, including how to implement the provincial direction. The Ministry of Education recognizes that this may result in regional differences with protocols.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) & Face Coverings

The PPE will be used as directed by the Niagara Region Public Health and Medical Officer of Health and align with the Ministry of Health guidelines for Childcare & Schools.

Children: Masks are not recommended for children, particularly those under the age of two

Staff: Masks must be worn:

  • in the screening area and when accompanying children into the program from the screening area.
  • when cleaning and disinfecting blood or bodily fluid spills if there is a risk of splashing; and
  • when caring for a sick child or a child showing symptoms of illness.
  • when a staff member in close proximity to a child for a period of 15 minutes or longer

Interactions with Children

When holding a child, staff will use blankets or cloths over clothing and change the blankets or cloths between children.


Pathways will ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures; in addition to, the regular, repeated cleaning and disinfection of high touch, multi-use work surfaces that take place

Pathways will follow the advice of Niagara Region Public Health regarding best practices for cleaning and disinfecting and keep a cleaning and disinfecting log to track and demonstrate cleaning schedules.

  • Hand Washing: If soap and water is not available, Alcohol Based Hand Rub is to be used by all staff and children prior to moving to another area of the school (e.g. moving from classroom to cubby/ locker area, moving from locker area to outdoor activities or whenever transition is made), when possible.
  • Water Fountains: The bottle filling station will be available to all staff and students. However, the use of the drinking fountains will be prohibited. Children are asked to bring a refillable bottle for their personal use. Children that do not have a water bottle will be provided with a cup.
  • Laundry: All cot sheets, blankets and sleep toys sent in must be laundered daily. Items requiring laundering MUST be washed in hot water and bleach, if possible. During the drying process, high heat should be used. During this time, all laundry will be washed daily by our custodial staff. Please ensure that everything that is sent in can be laundered.
  • Equipment and Toy Usage: Pathways will provide toys and equipment which are made of materials that can be easily cleaned and disinfected daily and between each group use. (e.g., avoid plush toys).
    • Mouthed toys should be cleaned and disinfected immediately after the child is finished using it.
    • Pathways will provide designated toys and equipment (e.g., balls, loose equipment) for each room or cohort. Where toys and equipment are shared, they should be cleaned and disinfected at a minimum between cohorts
    • If sensory materials (e.g., playdough, water, sand, etc.) are offered, they will be provided for a single child’s use and be kept in a container labelled with child’s name.
    • Playgrounds must be disinfected before each use / in between cohorts including interior and exterior doors, handles and gates, whenever possible.
    • Play structures can only be used by one cohort at a time and must be cleaned in between cohorts.


Drop-Off and Pick-up Procedures

Signage/markings will be posted to direct families through the entry steps.

  • Allow for extra time at drop off and pick up. Due to health screening there will be staggered entry as only one family can be screened at a time.
  • Health screenings must be completed at entrances before a child can be admitted daily.
  • Extended Care: Cohorts are not to be mixed with other cohorts at the beginning or end of the day.
  • Parents will not be able to go past screening area, unless approved by administration
  • It has been recommended to limit the drop off and pick up to the parents only. If this is not possible, please select the same two people to do pick up and drop off.


There will be no non-essential visitors in the building, this includes volunteers or co-op students.

  • Approved visitors must complete a health screening prior to entry and daily records will be kept and made available for contact tracings purposes. These include:
    • Ministry staff and other public officials (e.g. fire marshal, public health inspectors)
    • Catering Service
    • People providing supports for children with special needs
    • Maintenance workers, contractors, etc.
  • Pathways will use email, video, and telephone conferences to interact with other agencies and families where possible, rather than in person. (i.e. orientations, meetings, etc.)
  • Group events will be not be permitted e.g.: family nights, community meetings etc.

Space Set-Up and Physical Distancing

The ministry recognizes that physical distancing between children is difficult and encourages staff members to maintain a welcoming and caring environment for children.

  • Pathways Academy will strive to maintain physical distancing when setting up the play space by
    • spreading children out into different areas, particularly at meal and dressing time;
    • incorporating more individual activities or activities that encourage more space between children; and
    • when possible, moving activities outside to allow for more space; and
    • planning activities that do not involve shared objects or toys
  • Physical distancing of at least 2 metres must be maintained between cohorts
  • In shared outdoor space, cohorts must maintain a distance of at least 2 metres between groups and any other individuals outside of the cohort.
  • Staff is encouraged to increase the distance between cots or place the children head to toe or toe to toe if the space is limited.

Outdoor Play

Pathways will schedule outdoor play in small groups/by cohort in order to facilitate physical distancing.

  • Where the outdoor play area is large enough to accommodate multiple groups, staff may divide the space with physical markers to ensure cohorts remain separated by at least 2 metres.
  • If play structures are to be used by more than one cohort, the structures can only be used by one cohort at a time and will be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use by each cohort.
  • Pathways will have designated toys and equipment (e.g., balls, loose equipment) for each room or cohort. Where toys and equipment are shared, they will be cleaned and disinfected prior to being shared.


  • Communal lunchrooms will not be used, therefore, there will be no access to microwaves to heat lunches brought from home.
  • Pathways staff will ensure there is no self-serve or sharing of utensils or food at mealtimes.
  • At this time, families & children will neither prepare nor provide food that will be shared with others. Therefore,
    • families will not be able to bring in food to share with classmates (i.e. birthday cupcakes, popsicles, fruit platter, etc.)
    • baking in program will entail each child having their own supplies & ingredients
  • Proper hand hygiene will be practiced when staff are preparing food and for all individuals before and after eating. (i.e. children must wash hands both before and after eating)
  • Where possible, children should practice physical distancing while eating.

Hand Washing

Staff will perform and promote frequent, proper hand hygiene (including supervising or assisting students with hand hygiene). Hand washing using soap and water is recommended over alcohol-based hand rub for children. However, hand rub will be made available when a sink in not easily accessible.

What To Bring To Camp

Personal belongings (e.g., backpack, clothing, etc.) should be minimized. If brought, belongings should be labeled and kept in the child’s cubby/ locker and removed at the end of each week.

  • We strongly encourage participants not to bring any unnecessary items or items of value.
  • Please remember to bring the following items everyday:  
    • Sunscreen:
      • Please apply sunscreen to your children before arriving in the morning. Our staff will assist with re-applying sunscreen in the afternoon or when needed.
      • Children should bring their own labelled sunscreen and it should not be shared.
      • Staff may provide assistance to apply sunscreen to any child requiring it and will exercise proper hand hygiene when doing so (washing hands before and after application of each child).
      • Due to health and safety reasons children will no longer be permitted to use aerosol sunscreen inside the school.
    • Hat
    • Indoor & outdoor shoes
    • Bathing Suit, Towel & Water Shoes (for sprinkler use)
    • Extra change of clothes
    • Water bottle (can be refilled at our water filling station)
    • Peanut/Nut-Free Lunches & Snacks (if needed)
    • Toddler & Casa Students: Blanket and items for sleeping
    • Toddler Students: Diapering items

It will be part of our daily routine to venture outside to play.  At times the children will have the opportunity to enjoy the sprinklers and other water games. Please ensure your child has a bathing suit & towel everyday!

A friendly reminder regarding footwear

  • Students are required to have both an indoor and outdoor pair of shoes.
  • Outdoor shoes must be closed toe, with a back and have no high heel.
  • Indoor shoes must have a back on shoe (or heel and ankle strap) and have no high heel.

Please note: The Original Plastic Crocs can be used for indoor shoes however cannot be worn in the gym during physical education periods or for outside activities


Screening for Symptoms

  • All Pathways staff members will complete a Health Screening Checklist prior to commencing their shift.
  • All individuals including children attending Pathways Academy, staff, and authorized visitors must be screened each day before entering the building, including daily temperature checks.
    • If a parent is required to enter the program, a Health Care Screen must be completed on the parent with a temperature check.
  • Pre-screening will occur before being permitted into the building. If the family answers yes to a question on the pre-screen, their entrance will not be approved.
  • Families will be informed of the screening process during their orientation and through visible signage at the entrances and drop-off areas.
  • Screeners will take appropriate precautions when screening and escorting children to the program, including:
    • maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) from those being screened and
    • wearing appropriate PPE, as recommended by public health.
  • Pathways must maintain daily records of screening results. Records are to be kept on the premises, following our record retention policies
  • COVID-19 current symptoms as listed on Niagara Region Public Health’s COVID-19 website, and the Health Check Screen as approved by Public Health.

Screening Procedures

  • Each Pathways family and staff member will be required to review the pre-screen poster prior to entering the building.
    • If a family or staff member answers yes to any one of the questions on the pre-screen, entry into the building will not be permitted.
    • You be advised to contact their healthcare professional or Public Health.
  • Once pre-screened, entrance to the building will be permitted only one family at a time to be screened with the Health Screening Checklist
  • Additional families awaiting entrance must wait outside of the building.
    • While waiting they will be reminded to keep physical distancing space between each other
    • Markers every 6 ft. (2 meters) will be set up reminding people to keep a safe space.
  • Once in the foyer, the Screener will conduct the Health Screening Checklist by asking the listed questions and prompting families/ staff members to take a temperature check.
    • Parent / staff/ visitors can be instructed to take temperature, but screener must visually see and record temperature.
  • Each staff and family response must be recorded and signed off on the appropriate Health Screening Checklist.
  • Children will be transitioned to the classrooms by a staff unless the child requires additional supports while transitioning from parent to staff member.
  • The following must be disinfected in-between each family / staff member by the screening staff:
    • Doorbell & front door handles (in & out)
    • screening table, pens & clipboards
    • thermometer
    • basket with supplies
    • and any other area noted that was touched
  • At pick up times, parents will be required to wait at the entrance for staff to accompany their child(ren) to the door. Only one family will be permitted in the entrance at a time.
  • Entry outside of usual drop-off / pick-up times:
    • Each family / staff member must ring doorbell and be asked the pre-screen questions prior to door opening/ entering.
    • The administration/ screener will conduct the Health Screen Checklist
  • The Visitor Logbook must be completed for any entry outside of staff and children
    • This includes, parents, catering staff, contractors, inspectors, etc)

Actions to Protect Your Health

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Sneezing and cough into your sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Remind parents that they should be monitoring their children’s health and keeping children who are unwell at home.
  • If travelling outside of Canada, stay home for 14 days and remind parents to do so as well, unless otherwise advised through the screen.


Procedure – In the event of exposure:

  • If a child, parent or employee exhibits COVID-19 or symptoms indicating that they are unwell, they will be sent home immediately to avoid spreading the illness.
    • A child, parent or employee should not return to the program until they have been cleared to return by an appropriate medical professional, or as prescribed by what is permissible under a public health agency.
    • the child will be separated from the other children.
    • The sick child should wear a face covering until they leave the building (if tolerated and above the age of two)
    • Families will be contacted for immediate pick up.
    • All surfaces and handles, items and activities that the child has used will be cleaned and disinfected in the room/ cohort of the child.
    • The Principal or designate will contact Public Health (PH) to advise that a client/staff has been instructed to contact PH for direction.
  • Pathways will follow Publics Health’s Medical Officer of Health’s direction if a child, parent or employee tests positive for COVID-19.

Protocols When a Child or Staff Member Demonstrates Symptoms of Illness or Becomes Sick

  • Pathways Staff, parents /guardians, and children must not attend the program if they are sick, even if symptoms resemble a mild cold.
    • Symptoms to look for include but are not limited to:
      • fever,
      • cough,
      • shortness of breath,
      • sore throat,
      • runny nose,
      • nasal congestion,
      • headache, and
      • a general feeling of being unwell.
    • Students will be monitored for atypical symptoms and signs of COVID-19. (For more information, please see the symptoms outlined in the ‘COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms’ on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website.)
  • If a child or staff member becomes sick while in class, they will:
    • be isolated and family members contacted for pick-up.
    • directed to a separate room
      • If a separate room is not available, the sick person should be kept at a minimum of 2 meters from others.
    • be provided with tissues and reminded of hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and proper disposal of tissues.
    • wear a mask (If tolerated and above the age of 2)
    • remain in the presence of a staff member until a parent/guardian arrives.
      • where possible, anyone who is providing care to the child should maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 metres).
      • If 6 feet (2-metre) distance cannot be maintained from the ill child, advice from the local public health unit will be necessary to prevent/limit virus transmission to those providing care.
    • All items used by the sick person will be cleaned and disinfected. All items that cannot be cleaned (paper, books, cardboard puzzles) will be removed and stored in a sealed container for a minimum of 7 days.
    • Thorough cleaning of the space the child was separated to, will be conducted once the child has been picked up.
  • When a child or staff demonstrate symptoms of illness or becomes sick, the public health will be notified, and their advice will be followed. Pathways will also seek input regarding the information that should be shared with other clients/ families at Pathways.
  • Where a child or staff member is suspected of having or has a confirmed case of COVID-19, Pathways must report this to the ministry as a serious occurrence.
    • A suspected case is to be determined by public health
  • Children with symptoms must be excluded from Pathways as per Public Health instructions.
    • Children or staff who have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 or symptomatic person(s), should be excluded from Pathways for 14 days, unless otherwise directed by public health.
    • Other children, including siblings of the sick child, and staff members in the program who were present while the child or staff member became ill should be identified as a close contact and further cohorted (i.e., grouped together) until they can be picked up by parents/guardians to self-isolate at home.
    • The local public health unit will provide Pathways with any further direction on testing and isolation of these close contacts.

Serious Occurrence Reporting

Pathways Academy has a duty to report suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

  • Serious Occurrence (SO) must be filed for children, parents and staff members that may have suspected (i.e. has symptoms and has been tested) or confirmed cases of COVID-19 under the Health Protection and Promotion Act or;
    • If we are aware of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 related to:
      • A child enrolled at Pathways.
      • A parent/guardian of a child enrolled.
      • A staff of Pathways currently working/ scheduled in a rotation.
  • Pathways is required to post the serious occurrence notification form as required under the CCEYA, unless local public health advises otherwise.

Experience why our children are HAPPY to learn!