As the state continues to reopen, the following resources provide you with the most updated information to operate your program safely during COVID-19.
- Slideshow – June 11, 2020
- Family Programs Webinar Recording – June 11, 2020
- Center Programs Webinar Recording – June 11, 2020
- Slideshow – June 18, 2020
- Family Programs Webinar Recording – June 18, 2020
- Center Programs Webinar Recording – June 18, 2020
- Slideshow – June 25, 2020
- Family Programs Webinar Recording – June 25, 2020
- Center Programs Webinar Recording – June 25, 2020
- Slideshow – July 2, 2020
- Family Programs Webinar Recording – July 2, 2020
- Center Programs Webinar Recording – July 2, 2020
- Revised Group Size, Ratio Requirements, and Staffing
- Facility Access
- Screening Procedures
- Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting the Environment
- Healthy Hygiene Practices
- Physical Distancing
- Outside Play
- Meals & Snacks
- What Should I Do If Someone in My Program Gets Sick?
The maximum group size listed in the current regulations does not include staff members.
There is not a definitive answer at this time. Based on current data, the current group sizes and ratios will likely be in place through July.
The restriction on group size is anticipated to be temporary. If you have vacancies based on the reduced group sizes, then you can recruit additional children. Those children would then become part of the stable group. Otherwise, increasing enrollment will have to wait until group size returns to the usual number. A variance request to exceed the restricted group size in order to enroll new students would not be approved by OCCL.
The new guidance is that is an intern may be alone with children ages three years and older, if:
- he/she has valid intern qualifications certificate issued by Delaware First,
- is at least 18 years of age,
- has at least one year of experience at the child care facility at which they are currently working,
- has been determined eligible as a result of their comprehensive background check by the Criminal History Unit, and
- documentation of age, experience, and eligibility is on file in employee’s file.
Staff qualifications for those working with infants and toddlers remain as found in DELACARE Regulations for Early Care and Education and School-Age Centers. Aides may not be alone with children at any time.
New employees are allowed to start working, if:
- he/she has scheduled a fingerprinting appointment with Delaware State Police before the start of employment and this information is in the employee’s file. The employee may simply provide a signed statement listing the date, time, and location of the fingerprinting appointment; and
- he/she is supervised at all times by a person who has completed the background check process and has been determined eligible and is qualified at least as an early childhood assistant teacher or school-age site assistant.
No staff member may be alone with children until after DSCYF’s Criminal History Unit reviews the comprehensive background check and determines their eligibility.
- the individuals meet the age requirements in DELACARE Regulations,
- the individuals are the same each day working in the same class each day, and
- the daily health screenings are performed before the youth workers are admitted to the building.
It is not permitted if the youth worker programs want to provide a series of different youth workers to the child care program. Consistency is required.
Staffing is still a big concern, as we were already dealing with a staffing shortage and now we have staff calling out with possible COVID-19 symptoms as well as not wanting to work for fear of getting sick. Is there guidance on how to recruit and maintain staff to make sure we’re able to maintain the required group sizes and ratios, have consistent groups, and not combine groups at the beginning and end of each day?
Unfortunately, staffing concerns were an issue prior to COVID-19. While this topic has been a source of conversation and concern among several government agencies and higher education, OCCL has no solution to offer at this time.
Outside people are not permitted inside while children are present at this point.
Contractors or outside services can enter your home if the children are taken outside or during hours when the children are not there, provided that proper cleaning and disinfecting are completed afterwards, prior to the children returning inside the facility. If inspections cannot be conducted outside of child care hours, then OCCL will grant an extension for programs to get the inspection later.
If there is something specific in a child’s IFSP or IEP that requires them to have special services, then yes, that contractor or therapist would be permitted. However, on-site professional development for staff, including training and coaching, is not currently permitted. When in doubt, or if you have a specific service in mind, please reach out to your licensing specialist and we will get an answer for you.
If the individual is a staff member who does not work every day, then yes, she is permitted to continue working. If the individual is a contractor who is only coming in to run a program, then no, outside contractors are not permitted.
At this time, outside individuals are not permitted inside child care facilities that are currently operating. In-person tours are not permitted while children are present. Tours may be conducted after hours with proper cleaning and sanitizing completed prior to reopening during business hours. Virtual tours are encouraged.
It is preferred that children are met outside the facility by staff and the health screening is completed outdoors in order to greatly reduce the number of people actually entering the facility. However, if there is a lobby or vestibule that is NOT connected to a child care classroom, the screening may be done there. However, your goal should still be to reduce the number of people actually entering the building and physical distancing must be observed. Only staff and enrolled children may proceed to the classroom.
We understand that inclement weather can present challenges. To make it more manageable try staggered drop-offs and pick-ups, even 3-5 minutes can make a difference.
If the facility has a large foyer or a large open hallway in which they can extend the line into the building a little bit and still have people spaced out, it is reasonable to allow that accommodation to come in out of the rain. If there is not a large space at the front of the building, we would suggest having more staff assisting with the entry and screening procedures so that the process can move a little quicker.
Children may not be left alone without adult supervision, even for brief periods of time. A family child care setting can vary greatly from home to home, and the safety of all children in care must be the first consideration. Depending on the home, it may be necessary for a single family member to come inside the home by a few steps to bring the child to the provider. Please reach out to your licensing specialist if you would like to discuss your specific program.
The goal is to maintain physical distancing, which can become difficult if all families were permitted in the hallways. Additionally, restricting public access can result in a safer environment for the staff and children in care.
Parents and providers should both wear face coverings. Public Health guidance advises that the parent could place the infant in a stroller and the staff member would take the infant to the classroom. The stroller must be disinfected before another child is placed in it. Or, when the child has a car seat or carrier that is specific to them, the carrier could be placed on the floor or other safe surface, the handle could be wiped, and then the carrier can be used to transport the child. The provider should sanitize their hands before and after removing the child from the carrier. A last alternative would be that the parent, wearing a face covering, simply hands the infant safely to the provider, wearing a face covering; this is not recommended as no social distancing is maintained for this brief period of time.
In all cases, hand washing is key. If providers are able to do hand washing in between children, that is great. Hand sanitizing can be a supplement to hand washing if providers are not able to wash in between all children.
If a provider is using gloves, gloves must be put on and taken off correctly. In addition, gloves should be changed between children from different households, although they are not required to be changed between children from the same household. Even if using gloves, Public Health recommends washing hands before and after providers take them on or off.
Programs may choose to record temperatures, but are not required to record or provide documentation of temperatures or answers to the screening questions.
No, individuals are only required to be screened at the beginning of their day.
Delaware does not currently have such a requirement. A child care facility may have this as a requirement for their specific business, however, if that is their wish.
The DPH recommendation is to encourage fresh air into facilities. The guidance of how to get more fresh air into your building may differ depending on the types of building and ventilation system. It may be that if you have windows or doors that can open to the outside, then open them. It may mean using the fan through your HVAC system even when the AC is not running. If you are looking for specific recommendations, please reach out to your licensing specialist, who will elevate the question to DPH.
Since it is now officially summer weather, keeping the children cool during the day is important, so running the AC is acceptable. Some fresh air is still used in certain closed systems. Further Air Conditioning guidance can be found in the DELACARE guidelines.
Fans are permitted and should be considered as more of a matter of what makes it comfortable for you, your staff, and children. By DELACARE Regulations, fans must be inaccessible to children.
According to guidance provided by Public Health, they would not discourage facilities from taking this step, but they are not aware of this as a recommendation from health experts. The risk from transfer that this prevents is likely minimal.
Programs are required to sanitize toys twice a day, and are required to separate toys for sanitizing immediately after being placed in a child’s mouth. In addition to that, there is not a specific requirements for disinfecting, however, programs are encouraged to clean and sanitize surfaces, especially high-touch surfaces, frequently.
Strollers are another surface that people have contact with. The disinfecting process will vary depending on the material of the stroller. Hard plastic is able to be wiped down and should be wiped down between each child. Fabric strollers should also be wiped down in between each child, taking care to get in the seams when possible. Fabric that can be removed should be removed and put through the washing machine every couple of days.
The use of play-doh is permitted if each child is provided with a dedicated set of materials that are only used by that individual child and are stored in a separate container designated for that child when not in use.
Best judgement should be used when it comes to paper items such as puzzles and books. If it is not made from a hard-surface or laminated material that can be easily wiped down and sanitized, please refrain from using.
No, toys from home should not be brought in and passed around to other children. Comfort items should be kept in completely separate bags and never shared with others while in care.
Additional hygiene procedures such as this are never discouraged.
If a child 12 or older is in the area where you care for children, then they are required to wear a mask, even if they are household members.
Yes, it is important for children to see faces and mouths as they are learning to talk. However, at this point, the health consideration is paramount. We’re hoping that wearing face coverings is going to be a short-term solution. There are organizations making masks accessible for the hearing impaired, with clear panels so that others are able to see mouth movements if programs are interested.
If the face covering fits tightly and securely around/across the mouth and nose, it is allowed. To note, this does not include face shields. Face shields should only be worn in addition to a face covering, not in place of it.
Face shields should not be seen as a replacement for face coverings. Face coverings are better barriers than face shields, and face coverings are the requirement for staff and individuals age 12 or older in the child care facility.
If someone wants to wear both a face covering and a face shield, that would provide an extra barrier and would not be discouraged. In a situation where an adult is not able to wear a face covering due to an underlying health condition, a face shield is better than not having any barrier at all.
If someone has an underlying health condition that makes wearing a face covering difficult, that individual does not have to wear a face covering. Details regarding the medical condition are not required nor is documentation from a health care provider required.
If an individual cannot wear a face covering, you may wish to require more frequent temperature checks or other means to ensure the person is healthy. Another possibility for those who are unable to wear a mask due to an underlying health condition is to wear a face shield to reduce the risk of spread, as this should not restrict breathing
If a staff member in a center has an underlying health condition, we also suggest that the program consider whether or not there are other tasks or activities the staff member can do that would have less contact or interaction with children, families, and staff.
Any medical condition that would prevent someone from wearing a mask means they are at higher risk of being exposed. It is not a matter of a type of condition that might put someone into the “vulnerable” category, it would be the fact that they can’t wear the mask that would put them at risk.
If staff members are around the children on the playground, playing with children or helping them on or off equipment, then Yes, they should be wearing their face coverings. If the staff members are off to the side and physically distanced from the children and from each other, the face coverings are not needed at that time. However, the face coverings should be kept with the staff member so they are able to be put back on quickly if a child needs assistance.
Following the guidance from Public Health, yes, if the provider is able to maintain 6 feet distance, the face covering may be removed. Nap time may be a good time for a break from the face covering since the children are stationary. However, the face covering should be kept with the staff member so they are able to put it back on if needed to respond to a child.
Children should be six feet apart whenever possible. We need to create as much space and do the best we can to meet these measures.
If children are singing or yelling, the recommended distance for separation increases. Therefore, if a provider has planned a sing-along, consider spreading the children even further, having children wearing masks during that activity, or choosing a different activity.
Children can go outside for walks, but we encourage planning. For example, children should go for walks in their stable groups, and if using a device to keep children together, consider something made out of material that can be disinfected between uses (e.g., a chain of plastic rings for children to hold onto).
Although the health and safety of the children is priority, we do not advocate for additional structure or to limit free play. We understand that it is not possible to keep children separate from each other or from teachers. This is why we require consistent, stable groups of children and staff members. If stable groups are consistently implemented, then it is okay for the members of those groups to be interacting more than in groups where members change regularly.
Field trips are not prohibited. Maintaining physical distancing is the issue in taking children to other locations, both during transporting children as well as while at the site. Public Health has recommended that when transporting children on a school bus, there should be one child per seat or alternating seats if possible. Bus transportation increases the importance of wearing face coverings by all children who can wear them. Additionally, drivers and other adults on the bus must wear face coverings, hand sanitizer should be available, and the seats and other contact surfaces should be disinfected between groups. If one group is using the bus for a round trip, then Public Health recommends assigned seats and the bus be cleaned after the round trip is complete.
Groups should consist of the same children and staff each day, and groups should be separated from each other throughout the day, including during outside play.
Only one group of children may be on a single playground at one time. The equipment should be wiped down to the greatest extent possible between classes. If the facility has multiple playgrounds, one group may be on each playground as long as the groups remain at least 6 feet apart at all times.
During this health crisis, OCCL will not cite non-compliance to DELACARE Regulations (Family/Large Family: 52F; Center: 76C) if the requirement for daily moderate to vigorous physical activity indoor or out is not met.
The Division of Public Health has released separate guidance related to pools (https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/177/2020/06/Public-and-Community-Swimming-Pools-Phase-2.pdf). Swimming pools can be used if that guidance is followed.
- Water tables or bins are also permitted, provided that the water is used by one child at a time, the water is discarded after each child, and the table or bin is cleaned after use by each child and disinfected at the end of the day.
- The use of sprinklers is permitted as long as physical distancing can be maintained.
- Water slides that use fresh, running water are the best option.
- Slip-and-slides may be used as long as proper sanitizing and cleaning of surfaces is practiced after each use along with physical distancing and there is no communal pool, often found at the end of the slide.
- Children may not use slides that have an area at the end that collects pooled, standing water.
Use of play materials that cannot be cleaned between uses, like chalk, should only be used if each child is provided with a dedicated set of chalk that is only used by that individual child and is stored in a separate container designated for that child.
No, sandbox play is not permitted, as the sand cannot be cleaned or sanitized between uses.
For the staff member preparing or serving children’s food from home, DPH recommends the process of washing or sanitizing hands, wearing gloves, preparing or dishing the food, removing the gloves, and washing or sanitizing hands again, and completing that process for each child. If gloves are not available, the staff member should wash or sanitize hands in between touching containers for each child, as well as when complete.
The big change at lunchtime right now is that we do not want children serving themselves from communal bowls. We’re asking that the providers prepare the lunches off to the side and serve them to the children. With physical distancing, yes, we do want children to be spread out, maybe using two or three tables instead of one so that there is space between them.
This is at the discretion of the child care program, but in order to be protective, both should be sent home until a cause for the fever is identified.
If the symptoms are confirmed or suspected as related to COVID-19, the individual should remain home a minimum of 10 days, with at least 3 days since symptoms are resolved. If the symptoms are confirmed to be unrelated to COVID-19, then normal OCCL guidelines should be followed.
Any staff member or child care attendee must be excluded from the facility until the home-isolation requirements (above) are met. Close contacts, those who have spent more than 10 minutes within six feet of the individual, will be identified from the two days prior to symptom onset (or lab test date) until the last day the case was at the facility. Close contacts must quarantine for 14 days after their last exposure to the positive case. This generally means that the entire stable group or class the individual is a part of would be excluded from the facility for 14 days after the last day the case was at the facility. Additional staff and children who have been around the positive case should be considered and excluded if they are determined to be close contacts. Secondary contacts (contacts of contacts) do not need to be excluded. If asymptomatic, the case should remain in home-isolation until 10 days have passed since the lab test date (date specimen was collected).
Close contacts may be recommended to contact their PCP and get tested. If symptoms appear, they should get tested. If positive, they should remain in home-isolation per guidance above. The classroom and other areas that the individual has spent time in should be cleaned and disinfected per CDC and DPH guidance.
Not necessarily. Only close contacts would be excluded from the facility. Other groups or classes of children and staff that are not close contacts may continue normally, following face covering and other guidance. If a facility chose to take additional precautions and close additional areas or an entire facility, that would not be discouraged. In situations where DPH is unable to determine with certainty specific areas, the recommendation will most likely be to close the entire facility. For example, if a staff member teaches in more than one room and is involved in other activities such as recreational areas, cafeteria, etc. where multiple groups of staff/children might have been exposed, it might be difficult to determine specific exposures and thus, to be cautious, we might recommend closure.
If a parent of a child at the program tests positive, there will likely be minimum impact on the program, other than with that individual child.
When individuals test positive, their “close contacts” are directed to quarantine for 2 weeks. “Close contact” is currently defined as someone who was within a range of 6 feet for more than 10 minutes. All other individuals are reminded to continue self-monitoring for symptoms. Additionally, if there are areas of the program that parent was in, they should be thoroughly cleaned.
When individuals test positive, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is tracing that person’s “close contacts.” “Close contact” is currently defined as someone who was within a range of 6 feet for more than 10 minutes. In this case, if the teacher is considered a “close contact” of the individual who tested positive, then they should follow the advice from DPH or their medical provider. The standard requirement is to self-isolate for 14 days, but there are some allowances for critical workers. Additionally, shared spaces and that teacher’s classroom should be thoroughly cleaned.
The children, parents, and other staff members from the program are not considered to be close contacts. All individuals are reminded to continue self-monitoring for symptoms.
In this instance, DPH would recommend they get re-tested. In the meantime, indeterminates should be handled as positives.
The time frames are due to the incubation period. After an individual is exposed, it can take up to 14 days for an individual to show symptoms. Individuals are asked to isolate for 14 days to be protective of others. On the other hand, the time frame to ensure a positive person is not able to spread the virus to others is different. Once a person is symptomatic and confirmed as positive for COVID-19, the time frame that the person may be shedding virus is easier to estimate.
There are no changes to administration of medication requirements. Yes, an extension will be granted for those who were already due to renew their certification. The online version of the medication certification course is now available.
There is not currently a way to access the hands-on training. Training extensions for CPR and First Aid certifications will be granted as needed during this time.
Because of the license extensions, family care providers and center owners/administrators may choose which licensing year the training taken during the extension will count for. This decision will apply to all staff in the program though. Individual staff members may not count the training hours toward different licensing years. Please let your licensing specialist know which year that the training taken during the extension should apply to.
The number of staff members does not warrant testing done at centers; however, there are testing events throughout the state. Programs may reach out to primary care physicians’ offices around the possibility of coordinating to provide testing for staff.
If you witness any kind of disregard for guidelines, please reach out to your licensing specialist to report the incident. You ma also go to the OCCL website to complete a complaint form.
Licensing specialists will only review the files of the children currently enrolled in the program.
Please continue to contact your licensing specialist with any questions or concerns related to guidelines. All questions that cannot be answered immediately are always escalated for a response.
At this point, Delaware Stars staff are able to support any licensed program. There are several options for working with a Delaware Stars technical assistant, including receiving individual assistance to support your program as well as the option of participating in a Community of Practice. A Community of Practice is a standing group of early childhood professionals who raise and discuss relevant topics to share their experiences and learnings with peers, to help address program needs. The Community of Practice groups are facilitated by Delaware Stars technical assistants, who are also able to help identify relevant resources for the group. If you are interested in working with a Delaware Stars technical assistant or to learn more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there is a reason to have a child tested, or if a parent has questions, he/she should connect with that child’s primary care physician for further guidance and steps. Additionally, they may also check coronavirus.delaware.gov for information on community testing sites.