COVID-19 Childcare Guide

October 14, 2020

Whether it’s your first child or your fifth child, picking the right childcare program can be stressful. But throw in a pandemic like COVID-19, and it adds a whole new level of stress that you’d never thought you’d have to deal with. Below are some tips that will help guide you during the childcare program selection process.

What do you need to know about childcare and COVID-19?

According to the CDC, every childcare program should have a plan in place to protect staff, children and their families from the spread of COVID-19. 

As with most businesses, childcare staff should be encouraged to wash hands frequently and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly. They should be required to wear masks, and be able to help children over the age of 2 to wear masks as well.

Employees and children should stay home if they are sick. According to the CDC, each childcare center should have a plan in place if a staff member or child within the program becomes sick.

Remember, most children do not appear to be at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults, based on evidence from the CDC.

Childcare programs should be taking preventative measures to ensure a safe and healthy environment for your children. Here are some things, according to the CDC, that you can expect at a facility:

  • Masks – everyone over the age of 2 should be wearing one.
  • Social distancing – whether inside or outside, the centers should be ensuring that children are maintaining a safe distance from each other. This also includes keeping children in the same groups or cohorts each day, to limit their interaction with others.
  • Extra cleaning – while any child care facility should be cleaned daily, there should be more cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day. This includes any toys or mats.
  • Limited visitors – any non-essential staff should be limited inside a building; the CDC also recommends postponing or canceling the use of volunteers.
  • Staggered drop-off and pick-up times. There might even be curbside arrivals to limit the amount of people in a facility.
  • Possible temperature or health screenings for your child.
  • More PPE (personal protective equipment) for staff.
  • More hygiene stations – either sinks for hand washing or hand sanitizer dispensers.

COVID-19 childcare guide : What questions should you ask?

You are bound to have 100 questions. And when you’re speaking with staff at a facility, you will think of 100 more. Here are a few to specifically ask about childcare during COVID-19.

  • How many staff members will be interacting with your child?
  • Will staff members be required to be routinely checked for COVID-19?
  • How will the facility handle any potential or confirmed cases of COVID-19?
  • What preventative measures are in place, such as physical barriers, cleaning, etc.?
  • Will the children be placed into the same groups each day? What does playtime look like?
  • What happens if a child becomes ill? Will they be isolated?
  • What sort of toys does the facility have? How often will they be cleaned?
  • If food is served, how will the children eat? What precautions are taken to prepare the food?
  • Will children be screened each day?
  • What are things your child can bring each day? What items should be left at home?

What precautions can you take?

This COVID-19 childcare guide is helpful despite the low number of COVID-19 cases in children, you should still take precautions to not only protect them, but also yourself, your family and others.

A few precautions you can take:

  • If your child is over the age of 2, teach them how to wear a mask and explain why it’s important to wear one. Try on different styles until you find one that is comfortable, and have them wear it for a while at home to get used to it for long periods of time.
  • Teach them how to properly wash their hands with soap and water. And explain when they should be washing their hands.
  • Monitor your child for any symptoms or any other illnesses. If they fall ill, you should be keeping them home.
  • Talk to your children before, during and after they spend the day at a childcare facility. Answer any questions they have about COVID-19 honestly, to the best of your knowledge.
  • Have a backup plan if your childcare facility needs to close unexpectedly.

When should you or your child get tested?

Should you get tested? Should your child get tested? Where do you get a test? Here are few tips and guidelines about testing.

  • If someone at your childcare facility has tested positive for COVID-19, contact your health care provider. It’s important to call before heading to a doctor, as they can assess your situation and advise what is the best course of action.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you start to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, again, contact your health care provider.
  • You may have to isolate yourself, your child or anyone in your household if anyone at the facility has tested positive.
  • If it is recommended that you get a test, your health care provider can direct you where to find a location. Call ahead to find out the procedure, as each facility is different. Test results can come back anywhere from three days to several weeks. It’s important to make arrangements for child care, if you need to keep them home for an extended period of time.  

Resources:

CDC guidance on child care during COVID-19 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html

10 things to do if you have a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/10Things.pdf

Keeping children healthy during COVID-19 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/children.htm