Now What: Daycare Services During COVID-19
“There are only two things a child will share willingly – communicable diseases and his mother’s age,” (Dr Benjamin Spock – Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, 1945)
The noted child care expert’s observation seems never more true than today and daycare facilities are often the first line of viral spread in any flu and cold season; 2020 has proven to be challenging for day care and preschool operations in dealing with the Coronavirus that has captured global attention. Although the virus seems to be most devastating to the elderly and immune-deficient individuals, children may be carriers even while presenting no symptoms. With this characteristic of infectious risk, childcare providers have had to make difficult decisions about continuing operations. This is even more vital as communities begin to loosen restrictions and parents are headed back to work. We will look at some guidelines for safely operating daycares and preschools and making decisions about how to deal with infectious outbreaks among children.
As with all business guidance, daycares and nurseries should be in close contact with the governing bodies for their communities, and providers must be aware of any changes in mandates for regulatory controls on social distancing and attendance requirements based on square footage or number of participants. These guidelines are constantly changing depending upon experience of the disease spread and any business owner should stay informed to be proactive in protection of its employees and clients. Childcare operations are no different and pose even more threat of spread simply because children are often not consciously aware of maintaining social distancing and practicing good personal hygiene. Once you have determined that you are operating within acceptable protocols, you may want to implement protocols for protecting the children who are part of your group.
PREPARE FOR STUDENTS BY INCREASING CLEANING/SANITATION EFFORTS
Everyone involved in your daycare operation should be involved in promoting a clean environment for your participants. Staff should develop teaching techniques that will train the children to practice good hygiene. Handwashing protocols should be practiced by all employees and should promote the 20-second rule for washing hands with soap and water. Children and staff should be encouraged to regularly apply hand sanitizer to ensure personal cleanliness. In addition, a policy and procedure should be in place for regularly wiping down all hard surfaces and a closing and opening disinfecting routine should be followed. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) can provide guidance on these measures by going to their website at http://www.cdc.gov. Staff should be supplied with disposable wipes along with EPA-approved cleaning products for continued disinfecting protocols.
PREPARE A RESPONSE PROTOCOL FOR A SICK CHILD OR STAFF MEMBER
As business owners and personal care providers, it would be careless to not create a protocol on how to proceed in the event of a child or staff member becoming ill or an even worse scenario of an outbreak of illness. Policies and procedures should be established for required absenteeism in the event of illness. How will parents be notified of illness or potential outbreak? Will there be a marker for when your organization will need to close and for how long? Have parents and staff been educated in advance of any potential shutdown so they are aware of what that will look like? All these questions should be considered when developing a protocol for attendance and reaction to spread of infectious diseases.
DEVELOP ALTERNATIVES FOR SPECIAL EVENTS AND ACTIVITES
A major aspect of childhood development is encouraging learning through exploration and experience. This often involves field trips and events for social interaction, such as plays, musical activities, or sports. While all these activities are vital to interpersonal and social development, infectious disease control involves physical separation, and this is almost impossible in activity participation. As a daycare provider, you will want to research ways to develop community without the physical contact required with field trips. Many home-school groups and other educational systems developed virtual experience for their students, and this is one way you might be able to allow for group activities without forgoing the safety measures of social distancing. Use of creative methods for group activities may still allow for social development.
TALK TO YOUR INSURANCE AGENT ABOUT COVERAGE ISSUES
While many carriers understand the need for daycares and preschool facilities to remain open in meeting the needs of working parents, some companies have placed restrictions on coverage. Your agent would be able to provide guidance on whether your carrier has any type of restrictions on your coverage. One requirement that has been issued with some insurance providers is that your organization be certified and licensed with your state childcare agency. This underwriting restriction will require that your state agency inspect and approve your organization for safety standards in operation. Not all carriers are requiring this, however, so having an effective communication with your agent is vital for smooth reopening and operation of your daycare or preschool. Loomis Insurance Agency producers are knowledgeable and willing to provide the most current guidelines and coverage concerns for those we serve. Do not hesitate to call on us today as you look at moving forward in providing children’s services during this unprecedent time.
Contact us today with any questions you may have.