Daycare/preschool remains an essential business as it’s how essential workers are able to work. At Eco Bear, we are here to help you through these trying times as you figure out what’s safe and unsafe at your childcare business.
The utmost concern is keeping the children, parents, and staff safe, which means understanding COVID-19, how it spreads, what precautions you must take, and how to properly disinfect.
At Eco Bear, we’re here to help you understand the latest information, how to put practices in place, and to help you with any disinfection services needed to eradicate the virus from the premises.
First, let’s set the facts straight about COVID-19. If you browse the internet or turn on the news, you’ve likely heard conflicting information. Our information comes straight from government sources, helping you to understand COVID-19:
- COVID-19 easily spreads from person-to-person, especially when social distancing isn’t practiced. This means keeping a 6-foot distance from others.
- COVID-19 lives on surfaces for hours and sometimes days, which makes it easy to transfer the virus from person to surface to person.
- Close contact is considered contact within 6-feet for more than 10 minutes with an infected person. This includes any contact with the infected person 2 days before he/she knew there were symptoms.
- Anyone with contact with an infected person’s cough or sneeze is at risk.
- Not everyone infected with COVID-19 shows symptoms.
- Symptoms can take between 2 and 14 days from the date of exposure to show up.
How Daycares and Preschools Can Take Precautions
- Childcare must be limited to 10 or fewer children
- The group should be comprised of the same children each day to avoid cross-exposure
- Changing groups should not be allowed
- If there are multiple groups at one center, they should be well divided and no interaction should occur between the groups
- The same providers must care for the same group all day and each day
- Situate desks, tables, and activities at least 6 feet from another to help promote social distancing
- Don’t hold any ‘close’ activities that require hand-holding, circles, or any other close contact
- Promote individual activities or activities that can be done alone without interaction
- Use ‘group’ activities that allow social distancing, such as listening to a story, singing a song, or playing a verbal game to promote socialization safely
- Don’t share toys or any other educational materials. Give each child his/her own supplies and keep them secure in a closed bag so that no one else uses them and they aren’t exposed.
- Arrange nap times so that children are at least 6 feet apart and sleeping head to toe if possible
- Create schedules that give children as little exposure to one another as possible. For example, stagger indoor and outdoor time so that children are split up as much as possible.
- Make sure there is at least 6 feet between each child at mealtimes and that there’s no sharing of food, utensils, or drinks
- Each child should have his/her own food, don’t serve food buffet style or have plates passed to one another
- Use disposable plates, cups, and silverware if applicable
Sanitation and Hygiene
Of utmost importance is containing the spread of the virus by practicing good hygiene and sanitation. This includes children, parents, and staff:
- Have adequate handwashing stations throughout the facility stocked with plenty of soap and paper towels
- Have easy-to-understand signs based on the children’s ages to illustrate proper handwashing
- In areas where handwashing isn’t a possibility, have touchless hand sanitizing stations
- Ensure children wash or sanitize their hands after eating, going to the bathroom, coughing/sneezing, or being in contact with others
- All staff members should wear a face covering
- Children over the age of 3 that can manage a face covering should wear one with adult supervision only
- All commonly touched areas should be frequently sanitized and disinfected. This includes doorknobs, light switches, chairs, or any other commonly touched items.
- Try to limit the number of commonly touched items by keeping doors open and lights on and eliminating chairs, tables, and other equipment that can’t easily be sanitized
- Avoid sharing pens, phones, or any other equipment between teachers. Make sure each staff member has his or her own supplies.
Screening Children and Staff Members
Because COVID-19 spreads easily, it’s vital that everyone goes through a screening process and knows how to self-asses their symptoms (for adults). Anyone presenting symptoms of a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, or sore muscles should stay home and remain isolated for 14 days minimum. This includes 10 days from the date of the first symptom, plus 3 days after symptoms end. Employers shouldn’t require a doctor’s note for any staff members presenting symptoms, even one symptom should signify the presence of COVID-19 and be treated as such.
Parents should carefully monitor their children, keeping them home if they present any symptoms or are exposed to someone with the virus. Children should remain at home for 14 days at a minimum. Staff members should also continually observe the health of children throughout the day. If they observe a fever or respiratory illness the following protocols should be used:
- Contact parents right away. Make sure you have emergency contact information for each parent.
- Isolate the child away from any other children or staff members, while keeping him/her safe.
- If it’s safe to do so, place a mask on the child to prevent the spread of the virus.
Disinfection and Precautions
As a childcare center, disinfection is vital to your safety. Frequent sanitization throughout the day is crucial, as is proper disinfecting each evening when children are no longer present. Disinfecting commonly touched items throughout the day helps minimize the risk, but proper disinfecting of the entire school or facility is crucial when it’s empty to ensure that you get every germ out of the facility each night.
In addition, it’s crucial that you have an exposure policy in place. Should a child or adult become infected that has contact with your facility, you should have a plan in place on how to handle it, which includes informing parents of the emergency plan.
At Eco Bear, we know this is a difficult time and we are here for you. Call us at any time as our COVID-19 hotline is available 24/7. We’re here to help you with your disinfection needs, to answer your questions, or help you make sense of the COVID-19 information out there today. The safety of your children and staff are the priority.