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Sundre daycare centres partially reopen

Government asked facilities to accommodate essential service families
SUNDRE — Two of three local daycare centres reopened last week for children of essential service workers.

The provincial government had the week prior contacted the facilities’ personnel requesting they take proper measures to safely accommodate a partial return to regular operations.

“We are honoured to have been asked and want to offer this service to help our community,” wrote Kim Free, the non-profit Sundre Daycare Centre’s treasurer, in an email.

At the time the ministry of Children and Families’ request was received, efforts were underway at the centre to complete some upgrades as well as a thorough cleaning, said Free, adding a health inspection had also been scheduled.

“We completed our renovations in time, passed our health inspection with flying colours, and now the Alberta government has given us the green light to open for parents who are working,” she said.

“We will be reopening and providing care for kids ages six to 12.”

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Technically allowed to accommodate as many as 20 people, including children and personnel, in the building, physical distancing requirements outlined that only 10 can be in a room at a given time.

“Social distancing measures will be followed and we are following all recommended health and safety measures,” said Free.

Meanwhile, over at the for-profit Mount Imagination Child Care Centre, Korie Graham, owner and operator, said the doors would be open — under the same health guidelines — for children up to age of six.   

“We opened on Thursday (April 23),” Graham said.

Able to accommodate 20 kids, she said last week that there had to date been only one child under care, but expected more in the coming days and weeks as word got around that the centre is open.

A health inspector also investigated the conditions at the facility, granting approval to reopen, she said.

“It’s such low risk for children right now. We do as well as we can with social distancing with the children,” she said.

“We have to make sure everything that’s been touched is cleaned every single day. It’s a little more work for us, but it’s good for the kids — they’re getting out of the house.”

The only childcare facility in Sundre that for now remains closed is the smaller, for-profit and privately run Little Ducking Daycare.

Co-owner Jessica Rigsby said when contacted last week they had been asked to open, but could not as a result of capacity issues.

“Because we are a smaller centre, we are not opening,” she said, adding the facility cannot operate and remain financially viable at a smaller capacity.

Asked her thoughts on the government’s effort to reopen daycare facilities, she said, “It’s great that they’re trying to. They’re doing good with the hand we’ve been dealt. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, everybody will be able to go back to work.”

Until such a time, which continues to remain elusive in the face of uncertainty about how long the pandemic will endure, Rigsby said that some savings combined with financial assistance from the government will carry them along.

“Right now, we’re siting tight and hoping that it doesn’t go on too long,” she said.

Provided the pandemic does not go on too long, she anticipates they will be able to eventually reopen their doors.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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