September 15, 2021 DHS Enforces Mask Mandates in Child Care The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has issued clarification about the minimum necessary documentation that must be maintained by a child care provider to demonstrate a masking exemption and the enforcement actions that the Department of Human Services will take for noncompliant licensed child care providers. Comply with Masking Mandate Since September 7, 2021, all staff and children in K-12 schools and licensed child care facilities have been required to wear face coverings under an order issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Child care providers striving for compliance can work closely with certification representatives for strategies and resources to maintain full compliance. Failure to implement measures for staff and children to follow the order subjects a child care provider to the following child care licensing enforcement actions: Initial citations for non-compliance. Failure to return a license inspection summary with an acceptable Plan of Correction (POC) within ten (10) calendar days after notification of noncompliance may result in the DHS denying, refusing to renew or revoking your certificate of compliance. A downgrade to a Provisional Certificate of Compliance as a result of noncompliance to the order will result in the inability to apply for, or receive, a Child Care Stabilization Grant. Continued non-compliance may result in continued enforcement action up to and including issuance of an Emergency Removal Order. Citations will not be issued to providers where there are temporary instances when staff and children are not wearing their face mask but there is intent to comply with the order. Process for Exemptions to the Face Covering Order Any child care facility simply permitting a parent’s/caretaker’s sign-off without medical documentation that the child has a medical or mental health condition or disability that precludes the wearing of a face covering is not in compliance with the order. Under the order, child care facilities must require all individuals, two years of age and older, to wear face coverings unless the individual has an exemption. While there are exceptions, a parent’s/caretaker’s opposition to the order is not one of them. Before an individual is exempt from the face covering requirements, all alternatives to a face covering, including a face shield, are to be exhausted. Parents/caretakers indicating their child is exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition must have individualized documentation from the child’s physician. Form letters and parental/caretaker notes are not sufficient for documentation of compliance. Parents/caretakers and staff must submit appropriate documentation that is signed by a medical professional to the child care provider by September 21, 2021. More Information For more information, read the full masking order and OCDEL’s Announcement C-21-08: Compliance with Acting Secretary of Health’s Face Covering Order. For more news, visit our news page.