As more parents return to work, families turn to their daycare providers for coverage. And like virtually all other aspects of daily life, daycare centers are being required to take critical steps to protect children and staff.
While, as an administrator, you should always adhere to the requirements and policies of your state and local licensing and health departments, the CDC has a wealth of information to guide you as you adapt to your new normal.
#1: Choose the right time to open.
If your facility has been closed for a period of time, this handy flowchart from the CDC can help you gauge whether it’s potentially time to reopen. In a nutshell, you’ll want to ensure you have the recommended health and safety protocols in place as well as an ongoing plan for monitoring and responding to situations that may arise.
#2: Limit contact with parents and guardians.
From sanitizing the ballpoint pen next to your parent sign-in sheet to meeting children curbside, it’s wise to examine every step of your daily transition process to ensure you’re limiting risk as much as possible. Staggering arrival and drop off times can help as can ideally having the same designated pick-up/drop-off person. The more you can control who crosses the threshold of your facility, the more you can reduce exposure for everyone.
#3: Screen all children upon arrival.
There are a variety of ways centers are choosing to screen kids. These typically include a visual inspection of the child, asking parents/guardians a series of routine questions and checking the child’s temperature. CDC lays out three methods you can use as guidelines.
#4: Implement appropriate social distancing strategies.
How can you keep wiggly toddlers and preschoolers 6 feet apart from other kids and staff at all times? In reality, you can’t. But there are still key steps you can take to limit the number of people that children and staff interact with:
- Arrange children in the smallest groups as possible, ideally each in its own area.
- Keep children with the same children and staff every day.
- Limit mixing groups by staggering things like outdoor time.
- Keep naptime mats and cribs as far apart as possible, ideally 6 feet.
- Consider having children rest head to toe to further increase distance.
#5: Intensify cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
You’ll likely need to update your schedule for sanitizing surfaces and objects in your facility. Frequency will depend on how often the item is touched, whether it’s inside or outside and what it is made of. You’ll find detail cleaning and disinfecting guidelines here. As always, it’s important to use approved cleaners, follow all recommended instructions and keep all disinfectants out of reach of children.
Another situation to plan for is how you will dial-up your process if a child or staff member becomes sick. The CDC has provided some guidance on this as well.
#6: Continue providing quality care to children.
Knees will still get skinned and babies will need burping. From diapering and handwashing to feeding and holding, childcare is a hands-on, high-touch profession. Here you’ll find some excellent guidance to help staff protect themselves as they care for young children.
#7: Follow general safety precautions.
Healthy hand hygiene behavior has never been more important. The CDC has recommended hand-washing guidelines for both children and staff. Extra precautions should also be followed for preparing and serving food. And you’ll likely want to plan your staffing around an expected increase in absenteeism given the situation.
As an essential service so many families rely on every day, you most certainly will want to do all you can to ensure the safety of your staff and children. Towards that end, check the CDC website often as the recommendations for childcare centers are likely to continue to evolve.
Interested in learning more about coronavirus? Check out our COVID-19 Portal with the latest news and data from Puritan Medical Products, CDC and John Hopkins University.