A great deal of “nervousness” reigned in the various child care centers on Monday for the official opening on the Island of Montreal and several worried parents pulled out at the last minute. As for the principle of social distancing, it is completely impossible to apply, note all the people in the community contacted by The duty.
For weeks, Lori Primiani has been making calls to recruit children in anticipation of the opening of her daycare center, Cabane habile, in the Rivière-des-Prairies neighborhood of Montreal. With 80 seats, she was entitled to 40 children, but she only had five on Monday morning. “With the answers I have had, I may be able to have 8 or 10 children by the end of June,” says the director. Parents are really scared. They all say, I’ll wait a bit to see how it goes. Many had planned to start today or next week and put it off until September. “
She is not alone in this situation. Suzie Touchette, who runs Les Gazelles daycare in St-Hippolyte, is also having difficulty recruiting. “We didn’t have many children, the parents were afraid, despite the fact that we were reassuring. They all heard the minister say that they could keep their place even if they did not show up at the daycare, and they arranged it differently. Today I had three out of nine children. “
At the Quebec Association of Private Day Care, President Samir Alahmad notes that many reach an attendance rate of barely 10 or 12%. Even outside the island of Montreal, many do not reach 30%.
At the Quebec association of CPE (AQCPE), we see that there are both parents who call tirelessly in the hope of having a place for their offspring, and others who withdraw at the last minute. The figures have not yet been compiled in Montreal, but outside, in the daycare centers that opened their doors in May, almost one in four daycare centers had to refuse parents due to lack of space, says the director general, Geneviève Bélisle.
“It is certain that there was a certain nervousness in the network today, and it is normal in the context, but all in all, the reopening happened more easily in Montreal than in cold zone (in outside Montreal) considering the adaptation time we had. “
The same goes for the Federation of Interveners in Early Childhood Quebec (FIPEQ), which also speaks of a “great nervousness” facing the opening Monday morning. “But it was still going well because we received the equipment to be safe,” said president Valérie Grenon.
The problem, notes the FIPEQ, is that several home childcare providers learned this morning from their coordinating office that they would not be paid for the unfilled spaces, contrary to what the minister had said.
Steps have been taken to regularize the situation outside of Montreal, where the problem is still experienced, but the FIPEQ would have liked to have avoided this financial stress for those responsible for home childcare in Montreal, already worried about the spread of viruses in their house.
The financial insecurity and uncertainty surrounding the Quebec directives – who will be paid how much and for how long – is shared by all associations.
The impossible social distancing
The associations that represent the various childcare settings in Quebec are also calling for a little more flexibility in the application of the rules of social distancing.
“Do you want the truth?” “Asks Samir Alahmad of the Association of private daycare centers in Quebec. This morning, I visited a dozen daycare centers. In outdoor courtyards, social distancing, we forget that, the children play together and you can tell them not to come near, the children are children. It’s natural for them to play together. “
Everyone recognizes that it is generally possible to enforce a distance of two meters during a nap or dinner. We try to put the children of the same family together and always keep the same small groups. We also limit the number of toys available and we remove everything that we cannot disinfect. But this is the maximum that the staff can do.
“We are trying, but it is very difficult,” sighs Lori Primiani. This morning when I arrived, two children who hadn’t seen me for three months were so happy that they jumped on me. What are you doing ? You can’t tell them, “No, don’t touch me!” I put my arms up in the air and right after I went to wash my hands, but they need affection. They need this. You cannot say to an 18 month old child: “Stay two meters from me”, especially when the time comes to change his diaper! How do we do it if the parents can’t come in? Is the baby expected to climb the stairs on his own? I don’t know if the department knows what’s going on in daycares, but they make regulations that don’t look good. “