March/April 2022 Update

The Province of Ontario released new guidelines on March 9, 2022 regarding the lifting of various COVID-19 emergency orders. The mandatory vaccination policies were revoked on March 14, most masking mandates were removed on March 21, the Reopening Ontario Act expired on March 28, and all remaining emergency orders were expected to be removed on April 27. A full description of this media release from the Ministry of Health can be found here.

Individual organizations were encouraged to keep their own requirements in place. After reviewing the responses from related ministries and services/programs (ex. Ministry of Education, child care, high risk settings, other ABA providers), we decided to continue to follow Public Health’s COVID-19 recommendations, prior to the March 9 announcement. This meant that all current protocols in place would continue to be followed regarding vaccinations, masks, and using the school screener.

On April 22, 2022, the Province of Ontario released an update that included continued masking requirements in select indoor settings until June 11. A full description of this media release from the Ministry of Health can be found here.

If all remaining emergency orders are removed on June 11th (including those in high risk and healthcare settings), we will re-evaluate our COVID-19 policies and procedures at that time to align with these changes.

 

Best Behaviour Inc. has been working very hard to adjust services and provide meaningful accommodations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to do so.

Our services have been deemed essential, according to the most recent guidelines introduced on January 12, 2021. See page 27 under ‘Health care and social services’.

We have been able to safely provide in-person services (in home and in centre) by following all of the recommendations outlined by Public Health. We will also continue to provide various virtual accommodations, at both the service and supervisory levels.

  • Virtual service options will be made available when clinically appropriate. This includes occasional shifts between virtual and in-person services, as needed in response to directions given by Public Health.
  • Observations will continue to be provided in-person and virtually, depending on the needs of the learner and family preferences. Virtual observations and direct service will be delivered via secure platforms (ex. Ring security system, Google Meet). When planning for in-person observations, new and existing close contacts will be considered.

Self Assessments

The Government of Ontario has created a variety of self-assessment tools for individuals to use to screen and monitor COVID-19 symptoms.

We are asking all families to complete the school screener daily for their learner and other members of the household. Team members will also need to complete the school screener daily for themselves and members of their household. They may also complete a screener for the learner and/or family members upon arrival to session.

If everyone passes the screener, in-person services are deemed safe. If anyone does not, then the rest of the team should be notified and the recommendations listed on the screener will be followed.

Best Practices

The following precautions will be taken, in order to minimize everyone’s risk of exposure to COVID-19:

  • If you or someone in your household is identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please follow all necessary protocols outlined by Public Health re: confirmed and potential exposures to COVID-19.
  • Complete regular daily self-assessments of all team members and clients (adults and children), home safety risk assessments, and point-of-care risk assessments.
  • Encourage physical distancing whenever possible. Maintain a 2-metre distance and avoid unnecessary close contacts, and make use of outdoor space whenever possible. Arrange for pick-ups and drop-offs to happen outdoors, and stagger start/end times to avoid overcrowding. During times when individuals may become unmasked (ex. snack time), please keep these activities within a 10-15 minute time limit.
  • If physical distancing is not possible, personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of a mask or face covering is recommended, particularly for individuals 6 years of age and older. When interacting with individuals without a mask or face covering, additional protections such as eye protection is also recommended. PPE must be put on outdoors or while physically distancing, and replaced after each visit. Perform hand hygiene before PPE is put on, and before/after removal.
  • For those who are unable to wear a mask due to individual challenges, working on mask desensitization or teaching appropriate mask use is a goal that should be introduced to the learner’s programming.
  • Perform proper respiratory hygiene. Cover coughs with a tissue or cough into your elbow, followed by proper hand hygiene.
  • Perform proper hand hygiene (including assisting children with hand hygiene) and incorporate additional hand hygiene opportunities. Wash hands upon entry and exit, before food is prepared/administered, and any other time hands are potentially contaminated or after other personal hygiene practices.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting objects, toys, and frequently touched surfaces (twice per day). Limit shared materials to only those that are essential. Ensure all toys used are made of material that can be cleaned and disinfected. Do not use water or sensory tables. Label personal items to discourage accidental sharing. Check expiry dates of cleaning products used and always follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Do not share eating/drinking utensils or food. If food items are being shared with learners or team members (ex. bringing in a treat to celebrate a birthday), please ensure team members and parent/guardians are notified ahead of time. Please only bring in food items that have been prepared in regulated facilities (ex. store-bought or restaurant-prepared food items). Packaged/sealed food items are also preferred, since they can be sent home with learners if parents would feel more comfortable inspecting the food item before allowing the learner to consume it.

Vaccinations

The Province of Ontario has issued a directive that requires hospital and home/community care service providers to have a COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees, staff, contractors, students, and volunteers. The vaccination policy must be effective no later than September 7, 2021, and at a minimum will require these individuals to provide proof of one of three things:

  • Full vaccination against COVID-19
  • A medical reason for not being vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational session, and regular antigen testing

In response to this directive, Best Behaviour Inc. has implemented the following vaccination policy, effective September 7, 2021:

  • All employees, staff, contractors, students and volunteers must provide proof of immunization against COVID-19 by October 17, 2021. Public Health currently considers anyone who has received 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccination for a minimum of 14 days as fully immunized. A copy of proof of vaccination can be sent to sophiacatania@bestbehaviour.ca to be kept on file. Only the enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code can be used as proof of vaccination at this time. Individuals can download their enhanced certificate with QR code by visiting covid-19.ontario.ca/get-proof.
  • Anyone who cannot receive a vaccination due to a medical reason will have the option to submit a request for accommodation to sophiacatania@bestbehaviour.ca. This request must include a provincially-issued exemption QR code for verification. For more information about the exemption QR code process, please see the Province’s announcement on December 10, 2021.
  • If a team member is unsuccessful after seeking a medical accommodation, proof of a first COVID-19 vaccination will be required within 72 hours of being notified or by October 17, 2021 (whichever comes first).
  • Anyone granted accommodation or who is not yet fully vaccinated must test negative on a rapid antigen test no more than 72 hours prior to each scheduled day of work.

We will continue to monitor any updates regarding vaccinations, that would be relevant to our field of work and the learners we support.

At this time, full vaccination against COVID-19 is not mandatory for learners or families. The COVID-19 booster shots are also not required for team members, learners, or families.

Rapid Antigen Screening

Best Behaviour Inc. is enrolled in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. This provides us with rapid antigen screening kits to be used for team members who work in-centre*. The Province of Ontario released new instructions around the use of rapid antigen tests on December 30, 2021. Due to the current shortage test availability, it is recommended that rapid antigen tests be used for “test-to-work” purposes. Asymptomatic team members can use them to return to work when they would otherwise be in isolation. Symptomatic team members can also use them to confirm if they have COVID-19 (with no requirement for a confirmatory PCR or rapid molecular test).

The results of all rapid antigen tests completed in-centre must be reported using the Google Form provided. Best Behaviour Inc. is required to report all rapid test results completed. Training on how to complete the screening and report results will be provided.

Team members who are not fully vaccinated and are required to complete a rapid antigen test every 72 hours may not use the tests provided at the centre. Please obtain tests from a community distributer. Personal rapid antigen test results do not need to be reported to Best Behaviour Inc. at this time. 

In the event that a team member receives a ‘positive’ result, they will be required to immediately cancel their sessions for the day and follow the subsequent recommendations from Public Health. We recognize the inconvenience this may cause families, however this is one of the ways we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and workplace.

*Screening provided by Best Behaviour Inc. is not currently available for team members working in-home, clients, or families. However, if a team member working in-home requires a rapid antigen test for a ‘test-to-work’ purpose or to confirm if they have COVID-19, please contact Sophia Catania to confirm if a rapid antigen test can be made available.

If rapid antigen screening becomes available in your community, we encourage everyone to take advantage of this resource.

In-Centre Reminders

Here's what you can do to help us maintain a safe work environment at the centre:

  • No walk-ins. Please do not enter the unit unless you have been instructed to do so. Please call 226-755-0015 if you are unsure how to proceed upon arrival.
  • Call before entering the unit for your scheduled appointment, if no one is there to meet you. You will be met in the hallway, outside, or at your designated meeting point.
  • Before entering the unit, please complete a self-assessment. Contactless temperature checks may also be conducted.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands upon entering the unit.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow and avoid touching surfaces/materials when possible.
  • Maintain a 2-metre distance between yourself and others when possible.
  • If this is not possible, personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of a mask or face covering is required for adults only. It is recommended for children over the age of 2 years old, particularly for individuals 6 years of age and older. PPE must be put on outdoors or while physically distancing, and replaced after each visit. When interacting with individuals without a mask or face covering, additional protections such as eye protection are required for adults only.

Cancellation Policy Clarification

In light of Public Health recommendations that may result in an increased number of cancelled sessions, it is also important to review our 24-hour cancellation policy. For one-to-one sessions (as stated in the One-to-One Registration Form) …

  • In the event of a cancellation, I must notify the ABA Therapist(s), Senior Therapist, and Clinical Supervisor. Sessions cancelled twenty-four (24) hours in advance will not be billed. Cancelled sessions can be rescheduled at the discretion of the Parent/Guardian and Therapist, but it is not required.
  • Sessions cancelled within twenty-four (24) hours notice will be billed in full, as a Late Parent Cancellation. If possible, these hours will be used to benefit the learner’s programming.
  • If the learner is sick and the session is not cancelled, the Therapist may cancel upon arrival or end session early at their discretion, and it will be considered a Late Parent Cancellation.
  • If the Therapist cancels a session for any reason, all parties will be notified as soon as possible. If the session cannot be covered by another team member, the session will be cancelled and will not be billed. Cancelled sessions can be rescheduled at the discretion of the Parent/Guardian and Therapist, but it is not required.

Team members, please record the date/time you received notification of a cancelled session when tagging it as a Late Parent Cancellation on Clockify, in the description.

This applies to the first instance of a cancellation, not subsequent cancellations. For example, if SC is exhibiting symptoms and the self-assessment indicates that sessions will need to be cancelled until the learner is symptom free for 24 hours, that first cancelled session may be billed in full if it was cancelled less than 24 hours before the expected start of session. However, it is understood that all subsequent sessions are cancelled until further notice, so there would be no ‘Late Parent Cancellation’ charges for subsequent sessions. In this example, a parent would notify their therapy team when the learner has been symptom free for 24 hours and sessions would resume at the therapists’ earliest available start date.

Financial Benefit Programs

There are many financial benefit programs available to help families and workers facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs include benefits geared towards caregivers, employees, and independent contractors, who may be required to stay home and self-isolate or who experience a significant drop in income due to someone else’s self-isolation.

Here is a list of the most up-to-date financial benefit programs.

Employees may also be eligible for the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit. This time can be logged on Clockify under ‘Other Hours’ – ‘Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit’.

Updated: May 20, 2022