Have you wondered if it’s possible to work as an early child care professional, in-person, during a pandemic? A recent report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that it can be possible to significantly reduce the spread of disease and keep child care programs open — granted that certain mitigation strategies are implemented.
Fact: Children can acquire and transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in school and child care settings; however, implementing CDC mitigation strategies limits the risk for COVID-19 transmission in early child care settings.
Back in April and May 2020, when schools and child care programs in most states were required to close or transition to virtual learning, some Head Start and Early Head Start programs were able to stay open and operate in-person by using funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
A survey of Head Start and Early Head Start programs in eight states found that all of the programs were able to successfully implement CDC-recommended mitigation strategies by, “allowing maximum program flexibility and allocating financial and human resources.” The CDC-recommended mitigation strategies included:
- Everyday prevention actions, such as wearing masks, social distancing, screening for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and supervising proper hand washing for children
- Actions when someone is ill, such as flexible medical leave and benefits policies for staff members
- Communication and support, such as clearly defined protocols, ongoing training efforts, flexible work hours and staggered shifts
These, and many more, strategies were implemented simultaneously. The Head Start programs adjusted strategies in response to information from local public health authorities or education departments, and local levels of COVID-19 transmission. All of the surveyed programs had protocols for managing staff or children with COVID-19 symptoms.
Three of the 55 centers experienced COVID-19 cases among children for a total of nine cases from May to June. By following proper mitigation strategies, including notification, isolation, facility closure, and cleaning and disinfection, the centers helped reduce the spread of the disease. All three centers with positive cases closed for 14 days after detecting the disease and offered some virtual services.
Still wondering if you, an early childcare professional, should go to work? Figure out if your program can implement the strategies that these Head Starts implemented in their programs. Start creating a plan for what you will do if there is a positive COVID-19 case in your program. Read our Child Care and COVID-19: Resources for Caregivers and Families blog and start learning what you can do to keep you, your colleagues/staff, and your children safe!
The COVID-19 Pandemic is an ongoing situation. Make sure to check with your local licensing representative to ensure that you comply with all state regulations.
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