Peel Health, the local public health department of Peel, Ontario, is backtracking a policy “mistake” it made after facing widespread public backlash.
That “mistake”? Telling parents to quarantine their preschool and elementary-age children alone in their room for 14 days if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID.
The health department had issued fliers to parents of schoolchildren - including preschoolers as young as four - containing guidelines for their kids returning to school. Among those was the stipulation that if a child has had contact with someone who tests positive afterward, “the child must self-isolate, which means stay in a separate room, eat in a separate room apart from others, use a separate bathroom if possible," adding, “If the child must leave their room, they should wear a mask and stay 2 metres apart from others.”
The guidelines add that all other children in the household should also be kept home for the full two weeks, and kept apart from their sibling. Parents, however, are permitted to go to work - even though the children are far more unlikely to catch and spread the coronavirus than the adults.
Of course, anyone with half a brain and an ounce of decency immediately slammed the guidelines as tantamount to child abuse, accusing the health department of mandating “cruel” treatment of children -particularly preschoolers too young to understand what’s going on, and far too young to be kept isolated in their room alone for two weeks straight.
When local news outlets contacted the Ontario Ministry of Health to get their take on the matter, spokesperson Anna Miller said that “[t]he need for an individual to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19 is not new.”
“Recognizing it may be difficult for children to self-isolate from the rest of their household, parents and caregivers should take appropriate precautions when caring for children who either have COVID-19 or have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, and should seek additional guidance from their local public health unit,” she added.
How very not helpful.
As for those wondering whether some parents would be harebrained and cold enough to require their child to stay locked in their room for two solid weeks, a few parents – whose children should immediately be taken from them, but I digress – posted to social media that they’d already started taking such measures.
Thankfully, few people seemed on board with the idea of locking their child up like a prisoner simply because they may have had contact with a sick person infected with a disease that the child is unlikely to catch. After parents, government officials and the general public lost their collective mind over the ridiculous mandates, Peel Health announced they were retracting the guidelines, now saying they were a “mistake” that’s being corrected.
“Public Health must ensure the best interests of children and families are at the centre of recommendations,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown posted to social media. “They must be based on science with evidence for all to see. I am relieved to hear from Dr. (Lawrence) Loh that this mistake is being fixed and this flyer is being removed from circulation.”