Agency Response to COVID-19: March 24, 2020


March 24, 2020

To Employees, Parents, Families, Caregivers and Directors of the Board

NEW: Please keep in mind that individuals we serve do not have outside contact now and would therefore not be the one to infect you with the covid-19 virus. Rather, you and your colleague could potentially infect one of the individuals.

Remember that these are unprecedented times. The direction may change almost daily due to governmental direction and further information on the development of the pandemic. Please talk to us and support each other. We are not planning for 6 months in the future for now and we will see how things evolve over the next weeks and months.

We are starting to be very creative with delivering support through Facetime and other methods. The response has been very positive with young adults who like technology and have a comfort level with that technology. Sometimes, face to face communication is more challenging and this offers a very positive alternative. This can certainly continue in the future.

Tracy is exploring alternatives for people to connect across the province and beyond through Facebook events, fun Bingo sessions and creative solutions to connect internationally.

Please ensure we have an updated phone number for you.

We are connecting with each other several times daily with Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, and it would be a great way to continue after this situation has passed. It allows for up to date and timely connectivity.

Do not go to work if you feel sick! Please call your manager. You will be required to call your manager prior to your return to ensure you are fit. Do not expose your colleagues and people we support to germs.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones! Do something nice for you every day!

Should there ever be a presumptive case, the Public Health Unit will be ordering and guiding our process, as well as following up every day. We have supplies to keep you safe.

Currently, Ontario has over 573 cases and continues to rise in Canada. Please continue social distancing practices and avoid interactions with new people. Europe numbers continue to grow.

There will be no lay offs of employees in adult services. All employees will be redeployed. In EarlyON, some employees will be redeployed to support homes and continue outreach online.

Please remember that EAP has a number of resources available for you and your family. Please do not hesitate to use the service.

All non-essential services in Ontario will close as of Tuesday March 24th at 11:59pm. This order is in place for 14 days. There is little impact to our services and the services required for our continuity of service.

Schools will not reopen on April 6th.

All face to face training is suspended until the situation has resolved. There will be some flexibility regarding the compliance requirements and this will be discussed once the pandemic is lifted.

Find over thousands of free courses on

Remember to clean your hands when out in the community or wear gloves for added protection such as shopping carts, gas pumps, door handles of businesses, etc.

Can’t get to the gym? Missing your workouts? Looking for a yoga studio? Find great workouts and yoga classes that you can do at home for free:
• -short Y classes taught be fitness professionals
• -vinyasa and yin yoga classes free of charge for all levels
• -search over 600 free different workouts for all levels and style of exercise
• -yoga and meditation in varied length and styles, free

We are blessed with redeployed DSP so please keep individuals busy, active and with choices. We need to ensure variety during these weeks to avoid potential behaviors
• If someone wants to go out for coffee, drive-thru are open and this can be a nice outing. Please ensure you have a credit card as some stores are no longer accepting cash.
• Take someone to a car wash, giving the van a good cleaning. Busy activity and different scenery

Avoiding new contacts in your personal life will dramatically reduce your risk of contagion. Practice Social distancing in all your activities and wash your hands often. Avoid play dates, dinner parties outside of your immediate family. Rather have a dinner party by connecting through Facetime or other methods for “face to face” and connection.

Our EarlyON Child and Family Centres in Collingwood and Alliston have extra supplies of essential baby needs. If you know of a family in need, please have them call the Centres.

Remember to avoid touching your face. Frequently touching one’s face results in the spread of cold and flu germs.

Please be aware of new malware using headlines of Coronavirus information to get into your computer. Only open e-mails from trusted sources.

Currently, Ontario has over 502 cases and continues to rise in Canada. Please continue good practices and limit interaction with new people.

The Canadian border is closing to non-essential as of Friday March 20th. However, shipments of food, supplies will still be occurring thanks to our dedicated truck drivers.

Please remember social distancing, frequent handwashing and cleaning surfaces will decrease the spread of COVID-19. Unless you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you are practicing social distances, you are at low risk.

The state of emergency for the province is holding until March 31st, at which time the government will reassess if an extension is required.

All homes and offices are locked entry. We are limiting exposure for individuals we serve, employees and their families.

We should continuously screen ourselves and the people we support.

Individuals we support
• PLEASE INFORM MANAGEMENT SHOULD SOMEONE NOT BE WELL IN THE HOME. This is the normal practice at any other time as individuals will get sick. We need to ensure that they stay healthy.
• No maintenance contractors unless absolutely necessary. Please contact Peter Doner.

• If you know that one of your colleagues has been away out of the country, please connect with your manager. People must self identify to protect colleagues, their families and people we support.
• PLEASE DO NOT GO TO WORK SICK. Call your manager.
• If you note a colleague not respecting the guidelines that have been put in place for your safety, please report immediately to your manager.
• PPE: We are following best practices from the government of Ontario and guidelines for health community services and long term care facilities. Hand washing frequently, enhanced cleaning of surfaces and self-screening of self and residents is best. The use of PPE during regular care should not be used. Routine practices during personal hygiene is advised.

Children Services
• The physical locations of the Child Care Centre Tot‘N’Tykes and EarlyON Centres are closed until further notice by our government.
• Virtual activities with EarlyON are on Facebook! You can also call the Centre.

Basic information
• Please wash hand with soap and water, 20 seconds, using a proven hand washing technique.
• Surfaces should be cleaned regularly according to protocol.
• Traveling has been discouraged by our Canadian government. Employees returning from outside the country will need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days and they will be required to contact their manager or leadership team prior to returning to work to ensure all guidelines are followed. This will prevent spread of the virus to our most vulnerable.
• This guidance is also from our Health Unit as outlines below.

  • The Government of Canada has announced that all Canadian travellers should return to Canada now.
  • All travellers who are returning from Hubei province in China, Iran and Italy should report to your local public health unit within 24 hours of arriving in Canada (in Simcoe Muskoka contact SMDHU at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520);
  • stay at home and avoid close contact with others, including those in your home, for a total of 14 days from the date that you left the affected area; and
  • monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing and contact Telehealth 1866-797-0000, your health care provider, or your local public health department by phone (in Simcoe Muskoka contact SMDHU at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520), if you develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  • All other travellers who have been outside of Canada, upon return should follow the following advice:
    • Travellers who have returned from a COVID-affected area* need to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of illness for 14 days. If within 14 days of returning, they have fever (over 38 degrees Celsius) and/or onset of (or exacerbation of chronic) cough, they are asked to self-isolate at home until 24 hours after symptoms have resolved. The impacted area* is based on current epidemiology and World Health Organization (WHO) Situation Report which currently includes over 100 countries. At this time, such ill travelers as a group are not on the list of persons to be tested.
    • If you need further advice, please call Telehealth 1-866-797-0000, your health care provider, or your local public health unit (in Simcoe Muskoka call SMDHU at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520)
    • If you are ill and must visit a hospital or health care professional, call ahead and tell them that you have a respiratory illness.
    • *Affected areas include: China (mainland); Hong Kong; Iran; Italy; Japan; Singapore; South Korea.

Our sources

• Non-essential visits are suspended
• If you are or someone you live with are exhibiting any flu like systems such as cough, fever, or difficulty breathing; Please report to your physician’s office or the screening centre at Collingwood General & Marine Hospital
• We are asking that you do not come to any site for a full 14 days following your return to Canada and with confirmation that you are not exhibiting symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19. If you live with someone who has travelled, you must report this issue to your manager.

Practice Good Hygiene
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available;
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands with soap;
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm, not your hand;
• If you or a member of your family are sick, stay home. And please, do not visit our programs or residences to limit the chance those in our care from becoming ill.

Your Steering Committee: Christine Vallis-Page Scott Kelly Peter Doner
Tracy Nancekivell Patricia Green Lori McKean
Heather Grasman Deborah Sauvé (JH&SC) Irene Currie(JH&SC)
Salvina Lutz (JH&SC) Kim Saunders Nancy MacDonald
Cindy Boyce

We will continue to update you daily through memo, email and social media. Please send your questions or comments to the Steering Committee. We are raising awareness and plan to stay ahead of potential spread. Visit our website for all the memos under about us > news. Keep in mind that directions will change rapidly and will require fluidity. These are unusual times and we are thankful for your continued support. We thank you for your dedicated work and support to some of our most vulnerable Ontarians.

Best regards,

Christine Vallis-Page