July 10, 2020 COVID-19: Updated Guidance for Child Care Programs To maintain the health and safety of their staff and the families they serve, all child care facilities and programs that continue to remain open or that are preparing to reopen in Pennsylvania should follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). With this, programs are highly encouraged to implement additional health and safety procedures as soon as possible. About The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released a revised announcement that outlines recommended steps child care providers can take to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This guidance was developed based on recommendations from the CDC and the DOH and is subject to change. To access the full list of recommendations, read Announcement: C-20-06 Revised: Interim Guidance for Certified Child Care Facilities operating during the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. Additionally, in Announcement C-20-08: COVID-19 Operations for Licensed Child Care, OCDEL issued clarification regarding health and safety compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic to licensed child care providers and child care certification representatives employed by the Department of Human Service (DHS). For examples of required and recommended policies and procedures, continue reading below. Required Procedures Announcement C-20-08: COVID-19 Operations for Licensed Child Care states that child care providers are required to do the following: Child care staff must wear face coverings indoors; they must also wear face coverings outside where staff are unable to maintain a six-foot distance from others unless a medical reason prevents the staff from wearing a face covering. This includes anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance. Child care programs must establish and implement a screening procedure to assess for symptoms of COVID-19 for staff and children prior to entering the child care space and mingling with others. CDC guidance should be followed in developing the screening procedure. Child care programs must have a written health and safety plan that aligns with CDC guidance to minimize the risks of COVID-19. The safety plan must be communicated to staff and enrolled families. At a minimum, the safety plan must address screening procedures; child drop-off and pick-up policies; sick policies; mask policies; and cleaning and sanitation procedures. Providers can see the “Child Care Facility COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan Template” for developing a health and safety plan. Child care programs must adhere to the reporting of suspected or confirmed cases of enrolled children or staff with COVID-19 and complying with follow-up guidance pertaining to remediation, quarantine, and directive for temporary closure to address additional cleaning and sanitation. Effective July 17, 2020, child care certification representatives will cite child care programs operating out of compliance with the previously described Critical Elements derived from CDC guidance. Child care programs failing to comply with acceptable plans of correction may be subject to further action that impacts the child care programs’ Certificate of Compliance, ability to continue to operate, and eligibility for distributions of supplemental financial supports. For more information, view the full announcement or FAQ document. Drop-Off and Arrival Procedures Child care programs are strongly recommended to: greet children outside as they arrive; stagger arrival and drop-off times and plan to limit direct contact with parents as much as possible; post signage in drop-off and arrival areas to remind staff and children to keep six feet of distance whenever feasible; and set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance of the facility so children, families, and staff can clean their hands before they enter. Screening Procedures The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to prevent it from getting inside the facility. Child care providers should: conduct a daily health screening of any person entering the building, including children, staff, family members, and other visitors to identify symptoms, diagnosis, or exposure to COVID-19 (any person with a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above, or other signs of illness, should not be admitted into the facility); not allow staff and children to enter the child care facility if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are showing symptoms, or have had potential exposure to a person with COVID-19; and immediately isolate a child or staff member that starts to display symptoms and send them (and any family members) home as soon as possible. Routine Disinfecting and Sanitation To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their program, child care providers should: post signs in highly visible locations that promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of COVID-19 (washing hands, wearing masks, disinfecting, etc.); develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting; routinely clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched (toys, games, tables, toilet training potties, chairs, nap pads, etc.); and keep all cleaning materials secure and out of reach of children. Bedding and Toys Child care providers should: not use toys and bedding that cannot be washed, cleaned, and sanitized; not share toys with other groups of infants and toddlers unless they have been properly washed and sanitized before being moved from one group to the other; set toys that need to be cleaned aside and out of children’s reach; keep each child’s bedding separate and stored in individually labeled bins, cubbies, or bags; and clean bedding that touches a child’s skin weekly or before use by another child. Face Masks Child care staff are required to wear cloth face coverings. Children two years old and older are required to wear a face covering unless the child fits one of the exceptions included in Section 3 of the Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Order for Universal Face Coverings. If a child is outdoors and is able to consistently maintain a social distance of at least six feet from others who are not a part of their household, they do not need to wear a mask. If a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place a face covering safely on a 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. Social Distancing If possible, child care providers should: limit individual classes to the same group of children and same child care providers each day; consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers or other first responders; limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate during special activities; and maintain space between each child’s naptime mat or crib (ideally six feet or more) and place children head to toe during naptime to reduce potential virus spread. More Information For additional information, including information on what to do if a person at your facility tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to someone with COVID-19, view the full guidance from OCDEL. To stay up-to-date on the most recent COVID-19 information, visit the Department of Health or Centers for Disease Prevention and Control websites.