On May 14, 2020 the Premier of Ontario announced Phase One of the plan for re-opening the province. Autism treatment centres are included in phase one. The safety of the children/youth we serve, their families and our staff is our first, and most important priority. We wanted to reach out to you to share our plans for re-opening.
In implementing policies and procedures to respond to the threat of COVID-19 we will be following:
- The sector specific advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario
- The guidance of the COVID-19 Health Table for the Province of Ontario
- The Public Services Health and Safety Association guidelines for Childcare Centres (this is the sector specific advice that is most aligned with our centre at present and is recommended by the Government of Ontario). MCCSS representatives have shared with us that they will be providing more sector specific advice as it becomes available. They recognize that some of the requirements for childcare centres (e.g. protocols for nap time) are not applicable to ACT.
- Guidelines provided by the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario and the College of Occupational Therapy of Ontario
- IPAC Guidelines for PPE
Upon re-opening we will be providing the following services:
- Virtual services for ABA, SLP, and OT – for those parents who prefer to continue with virtual services (parents will be welcome to transition to face to face visits at any time)
- In Centre services for ABA, SLP and OT
- In Home Services for ABA
We are pleased to give you a brief overview (this list is not complete) to share some of our policies and procedures to be implemented at this time.
- ACT staff will be wearing surgical procedure masks and will practice frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing. In the event that children need to see the mouth of the clinician face shields may be worn (as long as they extend below the chin and to behind the ears with no gaps) or face masks with clear inserts.
- Universal masking is required by all adults. Children/youth with autism who are older than 24 months and are able to tolerate a mask will be encouraged to wear one.
- All ACT staff will be trained in the recommended hand washing and hand sanitizing procedures recommended by Ottawa Public Health.
- Gloves will be provided for all therapists for use in accordance with IPAC-PPE recommendations.
- All staff will be required to answer the 4 COVID screening questionnaire before work daily and will not be allowed to attend work if they are feeling unwell.
- ACT has contracted a local company to install a system that allows us to disinfect all surfaces and toys safely while children are at ACT (this hospital grade disinfectant is approved by the Canadian government as safe for children and effective at killing the COVID-19 virus). We will also be disinfecting the entire centre with another hospital grade disinfectant after the children leave for the day. The cleaning contractor for ACT will also use an industrial grade disinfectant weekly while no staff or clients are at the centre.
- No parents or siblings will be allowed in the centre during this period. When parents come to drop off their children they will call the ACT mobile phone. The ACT staff member will do a 4 question COVID screen and if the COVID screen is negative will meet the parent/caregiver with their child at the outside door at the front of the building to escort the child/youth into ACT. The exception to this policy is to be made when the child is new to ACT and has not seen the centre or met the therapist. In this instance one parent/caregiver will be allowed to accompany the child and the parent/caregiver will be required to wear a mask.
- We recognize that it may be difficult for a therapist (who will be wearing a mask) to physically distance from the children they are treating. We will however ensure that instructor therapists or clinicians are not working within two metres of another instructor therapist.
- Some administrative office spaces will be temporarily converted to therapy spaces to allow instructor therapists more individual therapy rooms to work with the children in their care.
- All face to face group intervention (e.g. social groups) are cancelled until further notice. Virtual social groups will continue.
- All items that cannot be disinfected (stuffed toys, fabric covered items) will be stored and not available for use.
- Each child will have a personalized bin for their use containing items used during sensory play (kinetic sand, play dough, sensory beads). These items will only be used by them and not shared with other children.
- ACT will waive all cancellation fees and will maintain a therapy spot for any child who must stay home because of an illness.
- ACT staff will be required to follow social distancing rules and to follow the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health while at work and outside of work hours.
- ACT management has created a set of policies and guidelines to govern in home therapy and instructor therapists will be required to ask parents a 4 question COVID screener before they enter the client’s home each week. If any of the family members in the home are ill or not feeling well therapy will be rescheduled to a time when all members of the family are healthy.
This is by no means a complete list but we wanted you to be aware that we are working to ensure that we are following the guidelines available to us to keep your children and our staff safe.
Please note that those parents receiving virtual services are encouraged to continue to do so.
We are very pleased to be able to pursue re-opening of our centre and we look forward to supporting you and your family during these unprecedented times.
We really are “all in this together”.
Should you have questions about these measures, or simply wish to speak to the ACT Learning Centre Management Team, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.