Multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at Edmonton-area child-care facilities puts pressure on families


An Edmonton family has been stuck at home for nearly a month after one child had repeated COVID-19 exposures at daycare.

“Unfortunately our son, who is three, has had two COVID exposures over the last month, so basically back-to-back quarantines for him,” parent Lindsey Warkentin said. “And then in between that, our daughter — who’s five — had an exposure at out-of-school care.”

The Warkentin’s are just one of many families impacted by the high number of COVID-19 outbreaks at child-care facilities in the Edmonton zone.

The provincial outbreak list is updated every Tuesday and Friday, and the latest data shows there are at least 19 daycares, day homes, before-and-after school programs and other child-care facilities with outbreaks in the Edmonton zone — alarming numbers for the Edmonton Region Child Care Association.

“Based on my conversations with health, it has to do with the variant and how tricky it is and individuals are testing positive further into the quarantine days then what they did initially and this certainly might be impacting the increase, ” Edmonton Region Child Care Association executive director Irene Wood said.

While not all child-care facilities on the outbreak list are shut down, Wood said with enrollment across the province already down 50 per cent, outbreaks are making it more difficult for operators and families.

“We certainly have had a push from families to refund fees,” Wood said.

“They keep these centres open because they know that people need support while they work, but it’s not very supportive when they are constantly getting exposed to COVID and having to stay home anyways,” Warkentin said.

Warkentin said fortunately, she and her husband are able to work from home, but the stress of trying to balance work and taking care of her kids is becoming too much.

“[It’s] a lot of pressure and definitely hasn’t been our best work over the last couple of weeks, because a lot of times I’m doing something while there’s a three-year-old sitting on my lap.”

Despite the double duty, she said keeping the kids at home long-term is not an option.

‘We need to work and it’s hard to do that when your kids are around, so we’ll send them back and hope for the best,” Warkentin said.

Alberta Health said fully closing a child-care facility in outbreak status is a last resort and it works with centres on a case-by-case basis.

As of Tuesday, May 11, COVID-19 outbreaks were reported at the following child-care facilities in the Edmonton zone, which includes both the city and surrounding regions:

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