October 7, 2020

Update: COVID-19 Child Care Operations

On September 29, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) issued an announcement to provide certified child care facilities with interim guidance for operating a facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement replaces C-20-06-Revised.


The announcement includes guidance on a range of health and safety considerations. Early learning professionals can review the guidance document in its entirety online. For examples of this guidance, continue reading below.


Practices, Policies, and Procedures

    • Implement drop-off and arrival procedures: post signage to maintain social distancing; encourage the same designated person to drop off and pick up the child every day; set up hand hygiene stations; keep hand sanitizer out of children’s reach and supervise use; stagger arrival and pick up times; transport infants in their car seats; etc.
    • Implement daily screening procedures: conduct a screening of any person entering the building; do not allow people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are showing symptoms to enter the building; ask caregivers to take their child’s temperature before coming to the facility and check their temperature again upon arrival; maintain at least six feet of distance from the parent and child; ask the child’s caregiver if any symptoms are present; put on disposable gloves; etc.
    • Implement disinfecting and sanitation procedures: clean and sanitize toys; develop a schedule for routinely cleaning and disinfecting; keep cleaning materials out of the reach of children; don’t use products near children; ensure adequate ventilation; etc.

Social Distancing in Child Care Settings

    • If possible, child care classes should include the same group each day, and the same child care providers should remain with the same group each day.
    • If your child care program remains open, consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers and other first responders.
    • Consider whether to alter or halt daily group activities that may promote transmission. Cancel or postpone special events such as festivals, holiday events, and special performances.
    • Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate for special activities such as art, music, and exercising. Keep each group of children in a separate room.
    • If possible, at nap time, ensure that children’s naptime mats (or cribs) are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart. Consider placing children head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread.

Face Coverings

    • If a child is outdoors and able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from individuals who are not a part of their household, they do not need to wear a face covering.
    • If a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place a face covering safely on the child’s face, they should not do so.
    • If a child two years old or older is unable to remove a face covering without assistance, the child is not required to wear one.
    • If experiencing issues with getting younger children comfortable wearing face coverings and keeping them on, parents, guardians, licensed child care providers in community-based and school settings or responsible persons may consider prioritizing the wearing of face coverings to times when it is difficult for the child to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from others who are not a part of their household (drop-off, pick-up, standing in line, etc.).

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Exposure

    • The facility must develop a process to inform facility persons of possible exposure to a positive COVID-19 case. The operator shall inform parents of enrolled children when there is a suspected outbreak of a communicable disease or an outbreak of an unusual illness that represents a public health emergency in the opinion of the Department of Health.
    • If the child is in care when the test results are confirmed positive, the child must be isolated until the appropriate party arrives to pick them up. The child’s parent must be notified as soon as possible.
    • If a facility person or child tests positive for COVID-19, areas used by the person who tested positive must be closed for a period of 24 hours following the confirmed positive COVID-19 case of a child or facility person in attendance so that the facility can be cleaned and disinfected properly. Close contacts must self-quarantine.
    • If a facility person, household member, or a child is exposed to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, they shall self-quarantine for a period of 14 days based on the CDC guidance.


    • If a facility person/child is a potential exposure AND has COVID-19 like symptoms, please report to the Department of Health or your local health department.
    • The facility must report positive COVID-19 cases to the Department of Health. Facilities within the counties listed on page 13 of the announcement must report positive cases to their local health department, who will in turn report this information to the Department of Health.
    • The facility must report positive COVID-19 cases and positive COVID-19 cases that result in death to their Department of Human Services (DHS) Certification Representative. Facilities must utilize the DHS Licensed Facility COVID Data Collection Tool.

Timeline for Returning to Care

    • Individuals with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home: discontinue isolation after at least 24 hours have passed since recovery (defined as the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and the improvement of symptoms), AND at least 10 days after symptoms first appeared.
    • Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home: discontinue isolation after no less than 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, provided no symptoms have developed during that 10-day period.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons who are not tested: exclude for 10 days from symptom onset AND at least 24 hours after fever resolution (if present) without the use of fever-reducing medication AND improved respiratory symptoms.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons determined by a health care provider to have an illness other than COVID-19: exclude until without a fever for 24 hours (if fever present) without the use of fever-reducing medication and symptoms improve.
    • Symptomatic child/facility persons with test negative: exclude until without a fever for 24 hours (if fever present) without the use of fever-reducing medication AND improved respiratory symptoms.

Additional Resources

More Information

This information was provided by OCDEL. For questions or concerns, please contact the regional OCDEL office at 800.222.2149. For more information, read the full announcement.

Image: An early learning professional works with a young student to put together a puzzle of a young boy.