Revise the Ministry of Education's "Runny Nose Regulation" for Ontario Daycares

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Honourable Stephen Lecce
Ministry of Education
5th Floor
438 University Avenue
Toronto ON
M5G 2K8

Dear Mr. Lecce:

This letter is regarding the Province of Ontario’s “symptom-free” policy for children returning to daycare after illness, regardless of having tested negative for COVID-19, (hereafter referred to as the “Runny Nose Regulation”). This standard is completely unrealistic and has massive implications for all Ontario families with young children:

1. Without daycare parents cannot do their jobs:

  • Further income loss will be experienced by Ontario families because parents will be looking after their kids' runny noses instead of doing their jobs and supporting the Ontario economy.
  • Whatever income families have left will be drained by paying for daycare services that they have no possibility of actually using.
  • The Ontario economy will further suffer in-step with reductions in family income.
  • Essential workers required to provide health care in Ontario will be unable to do so because they too need to stay home and wipe runny noses. Ontarians with true health care needs (COVID-19 or otherwise) will thus go without.

2. Without daycare parents will look to grandparents to provide childcare:

  • Most parents cannot afford to pay for daycare and private in-home care simultaneously, and so will seek out “free” childcare. To most of us this means calling on the grandparents.
  • Grandparents represent the most vulnerable people for infection with COVID-19.
  • Grandparents will travel between regions to look after children excluded from daycare. Travel puts them at increased risk for exposure to COVID-19 and at increased risk for spreading COVID-19 between regions.
  • Grandparents will be interacting with children because of this situation. Exposure to children who are attending daycare/school puts grandparents at increased risk for exposure to COVID-19.

3. The best place for children with rhinoviruses is at daycare:

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the most likely way for children under the age of three to contract rhinoviruses (i.e. common colds) in Ontario is at daycare. If a rhinovirus infection is contracted at daycare it is already part of the daycare’s microbial community. Having the child return to the same daycare with that virus therefore poses no additional risk to anyone in that daycare community.
  • Daycares are controlled environments with high sanitation standards. The spread of rhinoviruses will be reduced by keeping children with rhinoviruses in the daycare setting. Children infected with rhinoviruses who are excluded from daycare are more likely to move throughout the broader community as parents juggle child supervision with other needs of the household (e.g. grocery shopping). This will increase the spread of rhinoviruses. Spread of rhinoviruses will only serve to further overwhelm COVID-19 testing centers, where individuals are already waiting more than 5 hours to obtain a test.

With the “Runny Nose Regulation” the Government of Ontario is depleting whatever reserve resources Ontario families have left after months of pandemic response on runny noses. Further the Government of Ontario is inadvertently putting our most vulnerable citizens at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

What will happen when a true public health emergency arrives with the second wave? Parents will have nothing left to support the pandemic response and the already overwhelmed healthcare system will be further burdened by an increase in COVID-19 patients amongst our most vulnerable citizens. All because our kids had runny noses during cold season.

We are requesting that the Government of Ontario act now to revise the “Runny Nose Regulation” so that our children can go to daycare, parents can do their jobs and grandparents can stay safely at home.

Signed, Concerned Ontario Parents as Attached

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