Haliburton Wee Care administrator Denise Wolm said the community has been “understanding” in the wake of the daycare’s decision to close temporarily effective Jan. 26 after seven positive COVID cases and the need for others to isolate.

Wolm contacted The Highlander this week to say, “after almost 22 months, COVID has now touched us personally. Yes, we have not had one single case … until now. One case or 10, or anywhere in between, it is overwhelming and stressful for everyone involved,” she said.

She added knowing the severity of the spread of the Omicron variant, they understood that opening schools could accelerate community spread.

Wolm said she and staff felt it was “inevitable” that this would happen “given how people are feeling ‘done’ with this and want to just live their lives.”

She said the last two pandemic years have brought “ups and downs” and been stressful but the daycare is a family that is there for each other.

She expressed some frustration in saying, “As everyone is probably aware, child care has rarely been mentioned throughout this pandemic except to say that, after the first lockdown, we must remain open no matter what, we are essential to keep the economy rolling.

“We get thrown little tidbits of how valuable we are but when it comes to our well-being and protection, we are pretty low on the list. Information is doled out for us to decipher, sometimes two to three, even four times a week. It’s ever-changing and often makes no sense, but we soldier on and do the best we can with the information we are given.”

She added government rules and regulations are difficult in a childcare setting. “Our little ones can’t and don’t wear masks, social distancing isn’t even fathomable in the under four-year-old set, and when they are hurt, sick or even just sad, we can’t stop and think about COVID, we just do what we always do and give them our love and undivided attention.”

Wolm said to top it off, new cleaning protocols were put in place to stop the spread, adding another layer of responsibility to those already stretched to the limit.

She said rather than it being a news story, she wanted to emphasize. “We have an incredible community I can say I’m proud to be a part of. Our Haliburton Wee Care family includes our staff and their families, our children and their families, and our supporters such as Point in Time, City of Kawartha Lakes Children’s Services Department and Public Health, which she said are “short-staffed, overwhelmed and expected to provide all of the answers to the community in all different settings.”

Wolm said, “Once the announcement was made that we have COVID in our centre, there was no judgement, there were no harsh words of derision, there was no blame. What there was is staff pulling together to support each other through an even more stressful time, even while they were fearful about bringing it home to their loved ones. There were parents and family members offering words of support, encouragement, and even praise as to how we have been handling everything previously and currently.

“There has been nothing but compassion and understanding from everyone and from the bottom of my heart, with tears of appreciation in my eyes, I thank everyone for this. We will get through this together as we always have.”