Unlicensed Child Care Centres Guidance

An unlicensed child care centre will be required to close if either a child or the child care provider tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), or any other imminent health hazard, at the discretion of a public health official.

Unlicensed child care centres, just like any other businesses, services, or organizations on PEI, are required to have a COVID-19 Operational Plan.

The continued operation of unlicensed child care centres will be dependent on local epidemiology and the ongoing impact of the Omicron variant in PEI.  Cases of COVID-19 are anticipated at unlicensed child care centres, however, public health measures to minimize risk and increase safety in child care settings will be in place.

An unlicensed child care provider must operate within the allowable numbers for unlicensed child care:

  • You can provide child care for up to 5 children if you have infants and no more than two of them can be infants.
  • If you have all preschool and school age children you can have up to 6 children, and
  • If you have all school-age children you can have a maximum of 7.

Enhanced Public Health Measures in Unlicensed Child Care Centres

The guidance that follows expands on guidance that was previously in place.  Public health directives to individuals supersedes all guidelines contained here.

Enhanced Public Health Measures

Recommend everyone eligible get vaccinated with a complete series of Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 and its variants.  Evidence on vaccine effectiveness against the Omicron variant continues to be gathered.  Although breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals occur, current vaccines approved for use in Canada appear to provide good protection against serious outcomes and hospitalization from this variant.

Screening and Management of Symptoms of COVID-19

All children and staff must complete daily home screening for symptoms of COVID-19 using the screening tool.  Parents and caregivers are responsible for assessing their children daily before sending them to a centre.

If a child or staff person is feeling unwell or experiencing new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, they should stay home and access testing at a drop-in testing clinic at the earliest opportunity and self-isolate until the results are back.

Parents and caregivers may use an at-home rapid antigen screening test if a child is exhibiting a single mild symptom of COVID-19.

  • Children can return to a child care centre after one negative rapid antigen test result, so long as symptoms are improving and not worsening.
  • Children are still encouraged to stay home when they are actively symptomatic to reduce the impact on others.
  • The test must be repeated after 48 hours.
  • Parents/caregivers must use the health screening questionnaire daily to determine if the child should attend a child care centre.

When assessing for COVID-19 symptoms, it is important to think about the time of year and what is usual for that person.

  • Are the symptoms normal for this person (e.g. asthmatic cough, chronic runny nose), or
  • Are the symptoms new and worsening? Is the person feeling unwell (e.g. fever, new cough, etc.).

Testing guidance may evolve over time, refer to the most up to date information on the testing webpage.

Centres should follow their standard procedures for children, staff and essential visitors who become sick during the day. For example:

  • If a child develops symptoms while at the centre, the child is to be isolated in a separate room (if possible) or area away from other children. The parent/caregiver is to be notified to pick up the child immediately.
  • If the child requires close contact and care, staff can continue to care for the child until the parent/caregiver arrives. Staff must wear a mask and be mindful of handwashing and avoid contact with the respiratory secretions of the child.
  • All items, bedding, toys etc. used by the child that day must be removed from the play area and be cleaned and sanitized, or cleaned and sanitized in place.
Hand Hygiene

Ensure hand washing stations or hand sanitizing products are available and accessible to staff, children and all persons who enter and exit the centre (including parents/guardians at drop-off and pick-up).

Regular hand washing with soap and water is the most effective way to reduce the spread of illness. Encourage and make it easy for staff and children to practice good hand hygiene.

Staff should help young children wash their hands to ensure it is done correctly.

It is very important that staff and children properly clean their hands often, including:

  • At the start of the day and before going home;
  • After using the washroom;
  • After assisting a child who has used the washroom;
  • After a diaper change;
  • Before preparing and/or serving food;
  • Before and after eating or feeding a child;
  • After getting hands dirty;
  • After wiping or blowing their nose or a child's nose;
  • After sneezing or coughing;
  • Before giving medication to a child;
  • After caring for a sick child;
  • After cleaning (specific to staff members);
  • After any other activity that may contaminate hands (e.g. outdoor play, sensory play, etc.) and
  • Before and after handling shared items (e.g. books, toys, etc.).

Alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) is not recommended for routine use in child care centres.

Staff and children should avoid touching their face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and if they do touch these areas, they should then wash their hands immediately.

Cough or sneeze into the elbow or a disposable tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately and then wash hands.

Child care centres should ensure that signage on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette is clearly posted throughout the centre.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Maintain enhanced cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.

Toys should be cleaned when visibly soiled and sanitized as required (at least once weekly).  Mouthed toys, or toys that were handled by a sick child or a child exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should be cleaned and sanitized after each use.

There are four steps to properly clean and sanitize an object or surface:

  1. Wash: Remove all visible dirt with warm soap and water.
  2. Rinse: Rinse to remove any dirt and soap on the object.
  3. Sanitize: Either soak smaller items or wipe larger items/surfaces with an approved sanitizer. The sanitizer must remain on the item/surface for approximately 2 minutes to allow it to destroy any harmful microbes present.
  4. Dry: Items should be air dried only. This is to avoid possible recontamination from using a reusable towel and to increase the contact time for the sanitizer. If an item cannot be air dried, use a clean single use paper towel.

Mix 100ppm household bleach OR 200ppm quaternary ammonia for use in the kitchen, or on food contact surfaces and toys.

Mix 200ppm household bleach OR 400ppm quaternary ammonia for use in washrooms, diaper change areas, or on cribs, cots, mats and furniture.

A 1:10 solution of either product must be used to clean surfaces contaminated with blood or bodily fluids.

  • Use potable water.
  • Always pour the chemical into the water.
  • Do not use clear bottles for bleach solutions as the sunlight will weaken the strength quickly.
  • Always use the appropriate test strips to verify the concentration of sanitizer.
  • Label all containers.
  • Prepare sanitizer as often as necessary to ensure the sanitizer is available at the appropriate strength.  
  • Store solutions in an area not accessible to children. 
Ventilation Open windows when possible, and when weather permits.

All staff and visitors, including parents and caregivers, and regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear good quality masks (preferably 3-layer masks) in all indoor areas of child care centres.  

Children age 2 and older are recommended to wear a mask in all indoor areas of child care centres.

Masks are not required outdoors.

Exemptions to mask requirements include:

  • Children under the age of 2
  • Children between the ages of 2 and 5 who cannot be persuaded to wear a mask
  • A person who cannot wear a mask for health or behavioural reasons
  • A person unable to put on or take off a mask without the assistance of another person
  • If the mask is removed temporarily in order to identify the person wearing it
  • If the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that would otherwise be inhibited by the mask (i.e. engaging in physical activity, playing a wind instrument, etc.)
  • Staff may remove their mask if it inhibits instruction, while maintaining physical distancing
  • While actively eating or drinking
  • While providing a service to a person where visual cues, facial expression, lip reading, etc. are required

See the Wearing Masks in the Community and Workplace guidance for further information on mask use.

Physical Distancing 

Centres must create space between people wherever possible:

  • Use all available space to spread out, for example:
    • Use different common space and activity configurations
    • Avoid face-to-face seating arrangements except within consistent play groups
  • Prevent crowding during pick-up and drop-off times, and during transition times between activities, for example:
    • Manage flow in common areas to minimize crowding and ensure people can pass through common areas easily
    • Include signage in entry/exit areas to encourage physical distancing between parents and caregivers during pick-up and drop-off
Gatherings and Events  No in-person gatherings at child care centres, including but not limited to children’s concerts, family engagement events, etc.
Vulnerable Children and Staff Vulnerable children and staff can attend; they may want to consult with their health care provider.

Unlicensed child care centres are being provided rapid antigen tests to supply to children and staff to facilitate testing at home.  Home testing is intended to aid in early detection of positive cases and reduce incidence and impacts of outbreaks in child care centres.

Information on how to use rapid antigen tests is available online.

In the event of a positive rapid antigen screening test, the child or staff person must have a confirmatory test at a drop-in testing clinic at the earliest opportunity, and not attend the centre until they’ve received a negative result from a testing clinic. If a confirmatory test at a drop-in clinic is not available, the child or staff person must isolate at home for 24 hours and take another rapid antigen test.  If this follow-up test is negative the student or staff person may attend the Unlicensed child care centre.



Published date: 
January 5, 2022
Health and Wellness

General Inquiries

Department of Health and Wellness
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6414
Fax: 902-368-4121