Wave of cases in daycare centres: “the CPE is quietly immunizing itself”

It is difficult to get an accurate picture of the situation, but COVID-19 is currently circulating in many childcare services in the province, report several people in the network contacted by The dutywho find that their groups “immunize” one after the other.

“What is happening is that the CPE is quietly immunizing itself, one group at a time, says Guy Arseneault, general manager of the CPE Alexis le trotteur, located in Montreal. Last week it was a group of seven children. Every day, I see a case of COVID. Today I added two to my list. »

It’s the same story in many other daycares. “Two-thirds of my staff have had it or have it now, and half of the children in my facility have had it. We have at least one case a day, ”reports Marie-Claude Plante, director general of the CPE-BC le Hêtre, in Laval, and director of an office which coordinates services in a family environment where 738 children are placed. “I have groups that are going to be immunized for three months,” she says.

As is the case in several regions of the province, a child or employee who has contracted COVID-19 since December 20 is considered “protected” for a period of three months, according to an email from Public Health. from Laval sent on February 7 that The duty consulted. “If the person is considered protected, no isolation and no test are required, except in the presence of fever”, one writes.

“There are a lot of outbreaks, every day, and we wonder when it will drop,” adds Samir Alahmad, president of the Association of Private Daycares of Quebec. The same reality is observed across Quebec by the Quebec Association of Early Childhood Centers (AQCPE).

It is difficult to get an accurate picture of the situation. According to the website of the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ), no outbreak has been recorded this week. In a warning, it is written that the number of outbreaks affecting settings such as daycare services is “grossly underestimated”, because their entry has been optional since January 7.

These figures are therefore not at all representative of reality, believes Guy Arseneault. “Nobody knows how many cases there are in daycare services,” he says, noting a lack of transparency.

Change of approach

If the virus circulates, people contacted by The duty do not notice any serious symptoms. “The good thing is that so far, to my knowledge, there have been no serious complications in infected children and educators,” said Samir Alahmad. The AQCPE notes for its part a “paradigm shift”. “Now, we wonder when we will have it, underlines the general manager, Geneviève Bélisle. We feel that there is an acceptance, and we try to do the best. »

Quebec has changed the isolation rules applicable to daycare services several times since the end of December. Since mid-January, groups are no longer closed when a person is symptomatic, and the duration of isolation is reduced to five days.

The high number of COVID-19 cases in daycares does not surprise virologist Benoit Barbeau. “It’s a very transmissible virus,” says the professor from the Department of Biological Sciences at UQAM. The age group that attends daycare is not vaccinated, he adds, but he still notes a “semi-positive” element. “Generally, this is an age group that remains relatively well protected from the possibility of developing severe symptoms and being hospitalized,” he says.

Childcare services are nevertheless conducive to the spread of the virus, and this could contribute to the infection of other people around the children.

“It is certain that we must remain vigilant, considering that there are fairly sustained relaxations at the moment”, explains Alain Lamarre, professor and researcher in immunology and virology at the National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS) . He observes a small slowdown in the decline in hospitalizations in recent days, but he is not alarmed.

He notes a discourse where we must “learn to live with the virus” and where risk management is left in the hands of individuals. “We are reaching this stage after more than two years of the pandemic. I believe that the population is more and more informed about the risks and the consequences for each person,” he says.


Not everyone is comfortable with the new rules, and if by chance a child care service wanted to impose stricter rules, it would expose itself to consequences.

“If the management of a childcare service goes beyond the instructions, and imposes for example a 10-day isolation for children instead of 5 days, or an unjustified group or facility closure, the childcare service does not respect his service agreement with the parents and he exposes himself to legal recourse”, writes the Ministry of the Family in an information bulletin dated January 28. Its funding could also be affected.

“It made us angry, and I found it ordinary. We still have a right of management, ”says Marie-Claude Plante.

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