Child Care and COVID-19: 7 Key Questions to Ask Before Sending Your Child (Back) to School
Whether you’re still deciding what’s best for your child or you have already made the decision to send your little one back to child care or preschool, it’s critically important to know the right questions to ask about COVID-19 health and wellness measures.
Keep these seven key questions in mind as you talk with school directors and explore your options.
1. What does health screening entail at drop-off?
The biggest things to look for at drop-off are: 1) temperature screening (schools should ask each family to take their child’s temperature before coming to school or take temperatures on-site); 2) a staff member doing a visual check of every child for signs of illness; and 3) parents being required to provide verbal confirmation that their child does not have any COVID-related symptoms, hasn’t taken any fever-reducing medications and hasn’t been in close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days. All Directors and teachers should follow the same protocol before entering the building.
2. Are parents and visitors allowed inside the building?
As much as you may want to see your child off to their classroom, see them in action inside or have them enjoy special educational guests, it’s best that schools limit access to minimize health risks within the building. Parents should not be permitted to enter beyond the foyer/drop-off area and visitors should be postponed until they can visit safely.
3. What’s your policy on wearing masks?
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children over the age of two wear masks (except for during meal times, nap and outdoor play). In some states, like Pennsylvania, they are required. In others, like New Jersey, they are encouraged. In either case, it’s a best practice for all teachers and staff to wear face coverings while in the building.
4. What’s your approach to social distancing with young children?
Social distancing looks a bit different with young children, but it can be achieved in a child care setting when children are placed in the same group every day with the same teachers(s), when groups do not co-mingle with others and when extra precautions are taken to distance children, particularly during meal time and nap time.
5. Are there mid-day temperature checks?
While not mandated by the health authorities, mid-day temperature checks are an extra measure that supplements morning health screenings and helps ensure no students or staff in the building are exhibiting signs of illness as the day progresses.
6. How often are classrooms, classroom materials and playgrounds disinfected?
Best practice is to provide students dedicated materials when possible (e.g. crayons, scissors, etc.) and sanitize any shared classroom materials, as well as frequently touched areas, throughout the day. Playgrounds should be disinfected throughout the day and in between group use, and buildings should be extensively cleaned and disinfected on a nightly basis.
7. Will you notify families if there is a positive case of COVID-19 at the school?
Mandates for notifying families should a teacher or student test positive for COVID-19 are determined at the state level. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, for example, schools are required to notify all families, not just those whose child might have been in close contact with the sick individual. Double check your school’s protocol to ensure you will be in the know if an incident occurs.
There’s nothing more important than your child’s wellbeing, so don’t be shy to ask these questions and others.