Every morning, we dawn our mask and our visor and greet you at the door with questions like, ”Have you travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days?”, Have you come in close contact with someone who has COVID 19?” and “Does your child have a sore throat? Nausea, vomiting diarrhea?”
Then we escort your young child into his classroom where caregivers have been busy sanitizing all the materials used, as they do everyday. Throughout the day we ask our young wards to not touch each other, to keep their masks on, to wash their hands.
One gets hurt, she wants a hug, one misses his mom, he wants a hug. We hug them even though it may not be safe. One gets sick, we dawn a gown and gloves to go with our mask and visor. We scoop her to a safe room where her germs cannot spread and we wait for you to come. All the while, consoling the ill child who sits on our lap and needs to be held because she might have “The COVID”. You come, and we tell you that your child may return if her test is negative and she is feeling better. We wait to hear the news, panicked about the worst outcome.
The day continues. It is after lunch and time to put on sunscreen. We get out the gloves, each time changing for the next child we must assist with application. We carry on through our day, ensuring the materials are not being coughed on or sneezed on. We sanitize as we go. We vacuum twice per day, we clean high touch areas constantly, we do laundry every day, all to keep your child safe.
Where is our vaccine? We are told we will be in the second stage. Schools have closed, our province is in a shut down and we are asked to continue working. Where is our vaccine?
As a Montessori preschool teacher I recognize that staff in childcare centres are continuously overlooked when it comes to the COVID vaccination schedule.
Childcare workers have been risking their health and the health of their families regularly to provide care for the children of families who see us as essential. We care for the children of those who care for the sick, those that save lives, those who educate young minds, and those who ensure we have food and other essentials. We remain open and vulnerable while businesses and schools close, while people are told to work from home and only go out for essentials.
Often, we worry that if one of us becomes ill, how will the program run? There are no supply teachers to replace us, yet we smile politely as we greet our students every day from behind our masks and face shields. We do it because we love the children we care for and just like us, they are uncertain and in need of compassion, consistency, and respect for their emotional needs.
Kingston was able to vaccinate some of the general population over 55 years of age. Why weren’t the childcare providers in that age category thought of first? We vaccinated retired people who can remain at home. Why were child caregivers not higher or at least the same priority?
Cases in childcare centers are on the rise. Still, we remain open, and vulnerable. The priority needs to change. We need to be looked upon as a priority.
Bayside Montessori School Inc.