COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

Families & Caregivers

This is a difficult time for everyone, and now more than ever, we all need to support families and do our best for the people who rely on us every day. This section also includes links to information on self-care and supporting caregivers. 

This section contains general information on COVID-19 designed to support parents, families and caregivers.  Lambton Public Health provides advice based on best practices, available evidence and in the interest of community and family health. 

Keep your family and children you care for safe

If you or a family member has symptoms that you are concerned about, please use Ontario’s COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool.  

Expecting parents or parents with infants:

Have questions about prenatal care? Looking for information about breastfeeding? Experiencing the “baby blues”? Questions about growth and development or parenting?

Visit this website or call our Family Health Line at 519 383-3817.

Parenting

With many parents unable to work or working from home, and children home from school, it will be important to establish routines for children of all ages that strive to balance learning, physical activity, and healthy eating – all of which can positively contribute to children’s mental health.

As people expand their social circles, children and teens need guidance on how to socialize safely. 

The rules for social circles are different from the expansion of social gatherings. Social gatherings can be any 50 (when gathering indoors) or 100 (when gathering outdoors) people from outside your household, but where physical distancing of at least two metres should be maintained. For example, the expansion of social gatherings enables individuals and families to enjoy the company of others at backyard barbeques and picnics in neighbourhood parks, while respecting physical distancing advice.

On the other hand, social circles will enable Ontarians to enjoy close contact with members of their circle. This could include hugging, carpooling, enjoying a patio and sharing a meal without staying two metres apart. Ontarians should avoid close-contact activities with anyone outside of their circle if they are unable to maintain physical distancing.

While physical distancing does not need to be practised between members of the same social circle, other public health advice, including frequent hand washing, should be maintained. Anyone who is ill or feeling sick should immediately limit their contact with anyone in their circle, inform the other members of the circle, self-isolate, and seek testing if they have COVID-19 symptoms, by visiting one of the 144 assessment centres across Ontario: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations/ . They should also seek testing if they are concerned that they might have been exposed to COVID-19 or be at risk.

Caring for someone in their home

Whether you are caring for a family member, friend or neighbour, follow the recommendations below to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • If you are in the at-risk group for COVID-19, please consider your own health before helping others.
  • Practice physical distancing (at least two metres/6 feet apart) when possible, if this person is not part of your social circle.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Learn about face coverings.
  • If you have any symptoms of illness, or have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms, self-isolate and use the online COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to determine if you need to seek further care.

Consider the following tips to keep everyone safe, especially if this person is not part of your social circle:

  • Contact the person you are trying to help in a safe way (e.g. a phone call, text message, drop a note into their door with your name and phone number), and let them know that you are available and can assist with shopping etc.
  • If someone has asked you to help them, do not enter their home unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you are dropping off shopping or a prescription etc., simply call and let them know when you are dropping items off at their door. If face to face contact is necessary, remember to practice physical distancing.
  • Limit non-essential visits in and outside of the home.  Utilize food and medication delivery services where possible, connect the person to social engagement opportunities either over the phone (eg. Tel-check or Lambton County Connects), or set up online channels of communication by downloading apps on their electronic devices or connecting them with social media sites that connect them to programming or loved ones.

The Ontario Caregiver Association offers free resources, a helpline and live chat for those caring for loved ones.  They also have a collection of COVID-19 specific tips and resources for caregivers during this challenging time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will schools look like in September?

On June 19, 2020, the ministry released the Approach to Reopening Schools for the 2020-2021 School Year outlining scenarios for how students, teachers and staff can safely return to classrooms in September. The plan also provides choice to parents, enhanced online learning, and additional funding. 

On July 30th, the Province released their updated guidance to re-opening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Highlights include:
• All elementary schools in the province will open for conventional in-person delivery of teaching and instruction, five days a week. This applies to all Kindergarten to Grade 8 students. Parents will continue to have the option to opt their children out of in-person delivery, which respects the fundamental role of parents in making the final determination whether they feel safe with their children returning to school.
• Secondary schools in “non-designated”  school boards (Including the Lambton Kent District School Board and St. Clair Catholic District School Boards) will be permitted to open with conventional delivery, with enhanced health and safety protocols.
• Students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear masks indoors on school property.  Students may wear their own non-medical masks, and non-medical masks will also be made available for students.  Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear masks will apply.
• Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged but not required to wear masks in indoor spaces.
• School-based staff who are regularly in close contact with students will be provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

The full guidance document can be found here.

I’ve heard playgrounds are opening. How do we use them safely?

Getting back to the playground is exciting for kids and their parents. There are a few things that need to be considered before heading out.
• Check with your local municipality to make sure the playground equipment has been opened. Although they can open, some communities are unable to do so at this time.
• Make sure you pack hand sanitizer in case there isn’t a hand washing station available.
• Be aware that the playground may be busy and you may have to wait, or come back another time.
• Stay home if you are sick.

When you are at the playground:
• Keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others. 
• Wash your hands thoroughly before and after play. 
• Cough/sneeze into your sleeve or use a tissue. Dispose of tissue immediately and wash your hands. 

I am considering sending my child back to child care. Is it safe?

Lambton County child care providers have been working with Lambton Public Health to put the policies and procedures into place to open their doors offering a safe environment. Through the Ontario government’s reopening plan and the guidance of Lambton Public Health, the providers who are able to open will be ready to care for your children. 

Access more information on the guidance and tools for child care providers.

What are schools being asked to do to prepare for September?

On June 19, the Ontario government released its safety plan for the resumption of class for the 2020-21 school year, outlining scenarios for how students, teachers and staff can safely return to classrooms in September. The plan also provides choice to parents, enhanced online learning, and additional funding. While the decision to return to the normal school day routine will continue to be based on medical advice, boards and schools are being asked to plan for alternative scenarios that may need to be implemented in September depending on the province’s COVID-19 situation. The government’s Approach to reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year can be found here.


I have to go to work. Who can watch my children?

Environments with the least amount of people offer the lowest risk of exposure.

Learn about reopening child care in Ontario.

If you are unable to secure your child care spot or are feeling uncomfortable about using it at this time, there are other options.

1. Determine if there is a trusted adult or high school student in your neighbourhood that is home right now.

2. Grandparents may be an option. If grandparents are under the age of 65 and healthy they can help. Remember, there is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:
• aged 65 and over
• with compromised immune systems
• with underlying medical conditions

3. Home daycare is also an option. The least amount of contact with others is recommended. If your child is attending at home daycare it should be with a small, consistent group of children.

No matter what option you choose. Daily screening should be practiced for all involved.

Practice COVID-19 screening daily:
1. Does anyone in your house or the child care provider’s house have any of the following symptoms: fever, new or worsening cough or difficulty breathing?
2. Has anyone travelled outside of Canada (including the U.S.) in the past 14 days?
3. Has anyone had close contact with a lab confirmed COVID-19 case?
4. Does anyone in the household have ANY new symptoms of illness?
5. Consider using Ontario’s Self-Assessment Tool if symptoms develop.
6. Temperature checks are recommended.

If no to all of the above, keep the groups small and consistent.

*If anyone has any symptoms of illness they must self-isolate for 14 days.

Please note:
• Care providers need to be aware that they should only take children out into community settings or have people into the home who do not live there if they can maintain physical distance between everyone.
• Food and/or drinks should NOT be shared between people.
• Proper hand washing is extremely important.
• Surfaces and toys should be cleaned at least twice daily.
• There should be no shared sensory play or use of stuffed animals.

If you are unable to secure child care for your children, you may be eligible for Employment Insurance Benefits.

Where can I find more information about procedures for childcare settings?

Public Health Guidance for Childcare Settings

What outdoor recreational areas are open?

As Ontario and Lambton County move into Stage 3 of the Provincial Reopening and Recovery plan, almost all outdoor recreational areas and amenities will be open, including outdoor play and fitness equipment, splash pads, and all communal facilities intended to be used by persons using outdoor sports amenities, such as locker rooms.

Amusement parks and water parks remain closed in Stage 3 however. 

Rules for the safe use of facilities and recreational areas can be found here, on the Provincial reopening framework.

Anyone using any of these facilities shall ensure that they maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from any other person who is also using the facility unless they are from the same household.

I’ve heard day camps will be opening. I want my children to have good experiences, but how do I know my children will be safe?

Summer camps provide many valuable experiences for children and also may provide childcare solutions for families. This year will be different, however. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many changes into our day-to-day lives and has upended many of our normal, planned activities. Summer camps are not immune to this.

The Province of Ontario has stated that summer camps are permitted to open in July and August of this year. Summer camps look starkly different than they did in years past to ensure the health and safety of staff and participants alike. So, what are some things you can expect to ensure your camper’s safety?

• Overnight camps will not run this year. COVID-19 is primarily spread through sustained droplet exposure. Due to the sustained closeness of overnight camps, they will not operate this summer. 

• As a parent you may be asked to perform daily screening and assessments of yourself and your child prior to arrival at camp each morning, including a daily temperature check. Be on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms
    ◦ Camp staff will also be required to perform daily self-assessment and will not be permitted to work if symptoms are present.

• Some camps may choose to screen all participants upon arrival or require an online screening be completed before campers can participate for the day. Participants may be denied if symptoms are present.

• Camps will be required to follow all COVID-19 infection control and prevention protocols, including but not limited to: 
    ◦ Camp staff are ensuring participants are maintaining safe physical distancing practices, which includes a 2 meter buffer between participants, staff, and guardians.
    ◦ Increasing frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of all items and surfaces which may be shared.
    ◦ Limiting indoor activities, especially singing and other boisterous activities which may cause increased droplet spread.
    ◦ Staff are ensuring and monitoring proper hand hygiene and washing techniques.
    ◦ Some camps may require Face coverings (non-medical masks) if physical distancing is not possible between groups.

• Day camps will be broken into small groups of no more than 10 people, including staff and camp participants, to adhere to provincial gathering guidelines. These groups will remain consistent throughout the duration of the camp and will not mingle with other groups. 

• Campers are reminded to not share items and should come prepared with their own supplies such as sunscreen, water, food and other items which may be needed through the day labelled with their name.

• Each camp should have a completed risk assessment for the day-to-day function of camp operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This document lays out how the camp will operate under the provincial health and safety guidelines to ensure camper safety. This document should be available to all either on the camp website or upon request.

*Please note: these are subject to change as the COVID-19 situation evolves.*

Our local pool is opening. Is it safe for my family to attend?

Being able to go back to some of the activities we have done in the past makes us excited and maybe nervous. As the public pools in Lambton County begin to open, there are some things for families to know. The most important thing to consider before you attend is whether everyone in your household is well. No one with ANY symptoms of illness should be attending a public place including pools.

Other things to expect:

• Look into the booking set up for the pool. There will be a limit of swimmers in the pool at one time so you may have to book ahead.
• You will be asked screening questions before you attend. Please answer them honestly.
• Plan for arrival and departure taking more time than in the past. Be patient.
• Follow all instructions and procedures provided by the facility and staff.
• Physical distancing is crucial. You need to maintain a 2 metre distance from everyone who doesn’t live in your home.
• Consider bringing a non-medical face covering for times when physical distancing is a challenge. Some facilities may require it. Note: face coverings are not to be worn in the water.
• Be advised that some activities that have been offered in the past may not be currently available (i.e. diving boards, slides, etc.)
• Shower at home, before and after attending the pool
• Perform hand washing regularly while at the facility.
• Practice good cough/sneeze etiquette
• Before you attend, check with the facility about items for lending. You may need to bring your own life jacket, goggles, flutter board, etc.

Going back to the pool can be done safely as long as everyone does their part. Staff will be working diligently to ensure the facility is clean and safe. Patrons can assist by following all of the rules and having patience for the new process.

Resources

Looking after your family

Mental Health, Community Supports and Resources

Parenting

Ask a Question

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