AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Health and Human Services Commission told KVUE it has been notified of 42 caregivers and 25 children with confirmed cases of COVID-19 across 60 licensed child care operations in Texas.
In total, there are currently 11,094 child care operations that are open in Texas. The HHSC issued the following statement to KVUE:
"We are carefully reviewing the Open Texas Checklist for Child Care Operations (PDF) and will issue further guidance as soon as possible. In the meantime, providers are urged to review the checklist. Additionally, parents may refer to the Open Texas Checklist for Child Care Families (PDF)."'
On May 18, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that child care centers would be able to reopen and issued the following guidelines for child care programs:
Federal and state health protocols for serving children in child care:
- Operate the child care in accordance with the Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open released by the Centers of Disease Control, available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html.
- Based on above CDC guidance, create plans for each child care facility around the following prevention measures:
- Implement social distancing strategies
- Intensify cleaning and disinfection efforts
- Modify drop-off and pick-up procedures
- Implement screening procedures upon arrival
- Operate the child care in accordance with applicable state rules, including Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) emergency rules applicable to the type of license the child care center holds.
- Temporarily licensed child care centers can find their rules here.
- Regulated child care centers can find their rules here.
- Ensure that all child care providers have taken required health and safety training related to COVID-19 through the Texas A&M AgrilLife extension. The following training is required:
- Providing High Quality Experiences during COVID-19 for Emergency Child Care Settings
- Special Considerations for Infection Control during COVID-19
Preventative health measures for child care centers:
Child care providers must follow all applicable state statutes and HHSC Child Care Licensing rules. The following checklist is intended to provide a selection of important health and safety items. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Providers who need help understanding applicable rules and procedures should reach out to their contact at Child Care Licensing for further assistance.
Plan ahead to ensure adequate supplies to support hand hygiene behaviors and routine cleaning of objects and surfaces. If you have difficulty in obtaining these supplies, please contact your Child Care Licensing representative.
- Consistent with the actions taken by many businesses across the state, consider having all employees wear cloth face coverings (over the nose and mouth). If available, employees should consider wearing non-medical grade face masks.
- Require sick children and staff to stay home.
- Communicate to parents the importance of keeping children home when they are sick.
- Communicate to staff the importance of being vigilant for symptoms and staying in touch with center management if or when they start to feel sick.
- Establish procedures to ensure children and staff who come to the child care center sick or become sick while at your facility are sent home as soon as possible.
- Keep sick children and staff separate from well children and staff until they can be sent home.
- Sick staff members should not return to work until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation.
- Consider ways to provide this guidance to your child care center families.
- Have a plan if someone is or becomes sick.
- Plan to have an isolation room that can be used to isolate a sick child.
- Be ready to follow CDC guidance on how to disinfect your building or center if someone is sick.
- If a sick child has been isolated in your facility, clean and disinfect surfaces in your isolation room or area after the sick child has gone home.
If COVID-19 is confirmed in a child or staff member:
- Contact your local health authority to report the presence of COVID-19 in your facility. Your local health authority will advise you on re-opening procedures.
- Contact Child Care Licensing to report the presence of COVID-19 in your facility.
- Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
- Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the areas.
- Wait up to 24 hours or as long as possible before you clean or disinfect to allow respiratory droplets to settle before cleaning and disinfecting.
- Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, and common areas.
- If more than 7 days have passed since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.
- Continue routine cleaning and disinfection.
Monitor and plan for absenteeism among your staff.
- Develop plans to cover classes in the event of increased staff absences. Coordinate with other local child care programs and reach out to substitutes to determine their anticipated availability if regular staff members need to stay home if they or their family members are sick.
- Recommend that individuals at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 consult with their medical provider to assess their risk and to determine if they should stay home if there is an outbreak in their community.
Review plans for implementing social distancing strategies.
- Social distancing focuses on remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance from others when possible. Detailed guidance for implementing social distancing strategies in child care centers and schools is found here.
Assess group gatherings and events.
- Events and group activities are strongly discouraged in child care centers. If for some reason an event must occur, child care centers should follow current CDC guidance about gatherings and events.
- Avoid scheduling events that require your children to bring items from home (e.g. show and tells).
Limit access to your center.
- Prohibit any but the following individuals from accessing your facility:
- Operation staff;
- Persons with legal authority to enter, including law enforcement officers, Texas Rising Star staff, Licensing staff, and Department of Family and Protective Services staff;
- Professionals providing services to children;
- Children enrolled at the operation; and
- Parents who have children enrolled and present at the operation. Parents should only enter the child care center when necessary.
- Limit the use of parent or other volunteers in your facilities to an absolute minimum.
Parent drop-off and pick-up:
- The pick-up and drop-off of children should be completed outside of the operation, unless the operation determines that there is a legitimate need for the parent to enter. Should the parent have a legitimate need to enter the operation, the parent must be screened by the operation as outlined in this document.
- NOTE: For families participating in the subsidized child care program, efforts should be made to allow them to check in via the state’s card swipe system. Consider moving the card swipe station outdoors in the morning or swiping the parent’s card for them. Sanitize card swipe stations after use.
- Consider staggering arrival and drop off times and have child care providers go outside the facility to pick up the children as caretakers arrive. A plan for curbside drop-off and pick-up should limit direct contact between parents and staff members and adhere to social distancing recommendations.
- Hand hygiene stations should be set up at the entrance of the facility, so that children can clean their hands before they enter. If a sink with soap and water is not available, provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol next to parent sign-in sheets. Keep hand sanitizer out of children’s reach and supervise use. If possible, place sign-in stations outside, and provide sanitary wipes for cleaning pens between each use.
- Designate a parent to be the drop-off/pick-up volunteer to walk all children to their classroom, and at the end of the day, walk all children back to their cars. These volunteers should wear a mask. To the extent possible, they should also keep 6 feet of distance between themselves and the caregiver, and other volunteers.
- Infants can be transported in their car seats. Store car seats out of children’s reach.
- If possible, older people such as grandparents should not pick up children, because they are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
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