How to Handle a Confirmed COVID-19 Exposure in a Daycare
It's important that you keep cool, calm, and collected in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 exposure in your program. We've created this how-to guide so you can focus on what's most important, the health and safety of the children and families in your program.
COVID-19 can strike at any time. Stop the virus right in its tracks by creating your own COVID-19 action-packed plan and sticking to it. Quick response to possible COVID-19 cases can prevent the spread to children in your care and the greater community. We've created this how-to guide so you can focus on what's most important, the health and safety of the children and families in your program. This is the flow MyVillage recommends, learned from experience in our child care programs and CDC guidance. Always contact your local health department for instruction on isolation and closure due to COVID-19 exposure.
1. Prepare an action plan for handling COVID-19 exposure
Before we can prepare an action plan, we must first understand what exposure means. The CDC defines exposure as “individuals exposed to people with known or suspected COVID-19 or possible COVID-19.” Individuals need to self-isolate for 14 days only if they have COVID-19 and/or they are a close contact. A child care program would need to shut down only if a staff member had a positive COVID-19 case and/or a child who was physically present in the program had a positive case. The program needs to stay closed only if the educator or staff are a close contact, which is defined as “an individual who was within six feet or less of a COVID-19 positive person for at least 15 minutes or more starting from two days before illness onset until the patient is isolated.” This direction does not apply when anyone outside of your immediate program circle is exposed. That would by definition be a secondary exposure (or “contact of a contact”) with different guidelines.
In the event of an exposure, immediately contact all caregivers to have all children picked up from the program. Let families know that a person within the program was exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual and that children must be picked up as soon as possible for the health and safety of all program members until further notice. Do your best to socially distance everyone present and wear masks/PPE if possible. A vital piece of your COVID-19 plan is to have your local health department contact information handy so you know who to call, and where to look, for specific instructions on isolation and closure in the event of a COVID-19 exposure. Just like you know to call 911 in an emergency, you should know the number for your local health department in the event of a COVID-19 exposure. Follow local recommendations for how long to stay closed. The National Association of Country and City Health Officials (NACCHO) created an easy-to-use, interactive map tool to help you search for the local health departments in your area. The organization also released a Local Health Department COVID-19 Directory to locate the best point of contact for COVID-19 inquiries by state and local jurisdiction.
2. Know your next steps after closing due to COVID-19
Quick response to possible COVID-19 cases can prevent the spread to the children in your care and the greater community. The following information is the CDC's recommended flow for COVID-19-related closures. However, we encourage you to always contact your local health department for specific directions on isolation and closure due to COVID-19 exposure or possible exposure.
If a child/educator has a confirmed/suspected case of COVID-19:
- A child/educator with a suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19 should be excluded from care for 14 days following their initial exposure or until a doctor has provided a note for them to return to the program.
- Any MyVillage program with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in an educator/child will close for a minimum of 24 hours for cleaning and social distancing, and ask local health authorities when it’s safe to reopen.
If there are more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the program
- Any program with a second confirmed case of COVID-19 in an educator/child within 30 days should close for a second time for a minimum of 72 hours for cleaning, testing, and public health investigation.
- Any program with 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in educators/children within 30 days will close for a minimum of 14 days.
If a family member, caregiver, etc. of a child tests positive for COVID-19
- If a family member, caregiver, guardian, or member of the household of a child tests positive for COVID-19, the child should be excluded from care until they have been tested and have been cleared to resume care from a health provider. Programs should close for at least 24 hours for cleaning and contact health authorities for guidance on reopening.
- If an immediate family member, caregiver, guardian, or member of the household of an educator test positive for COVID-19, the educator should get tested and the program should close for at least 24 hours while awaiting guidance from the educator’s health provider on reopening.
3. Learn how to communicate with families about COVID-19
Inform families of your COVID-19-related absences and payment policies as soon as possible. Remember that you're the boss, and it’s totally up to you to decide what works best for your business. However if you’re looking for some guidance, here’s our recommended payment policy for you to edit and implement:
- If the program is closed due to the illness of an educator, member of their household, or child in the program – [EDIT] no tuition would be refunded for the first three days of closure. Any additional closure would be unpaid and families compensated in the form of credit for another day of care on a future monthly statement [EDIT].
- If a child is excluded from the program due to confirmed COVID-19, the family is responsible for paying [EDIT] for one week of missed care. Second-week tuition would not be charged and may be credited to future care [EDIT].
It's also important to communicate with families about your plans for cleaning after closures. The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting your space thoroughly after someone has tested positive for COVID by:
- Closing areas used by the person with COVID-19. Wait as long as practical before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize the potential for exposure.
- Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation.
- Wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
- Cleaning and disinfecting all areas used by the person with COVID-19. Focus on frequently touched surfaces.
- Surfaces should be cleaned using soap and water before disinfection.
- Use the most common EPA-registered household disinfectants.
- Toys that children have contaminated by body secretion or excretion should be set aside until they are cleaned by hand with water and detergent, rinsed, sanitized, and air-dried or in a mechanical dishwasher.
- Cribs and crib mattresses should be wiped down and disinfected.
- Bedding should be machine washed using detergent.
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