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Updated Statewide Guidance for Childcare Programs and Providers
On June 8, 2020, LCW issued a Special Bulletin on statewide COVID-19 guidance for the reopening of childcare programs and providers. On July 17, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), California Department of Social Services, and Cal-OSHA released updated statewide guidance for childcare programs and providers. Childcare providers must also comply with the guidance for childcare facilities released by the State Department of Social Services on July 15, 2020.
It is important to note that the recent statewide orders restricting the reopening of K-12 schools, including private schools, do not apply to childcare facilities or preschools. Therefore, childcare facilities and preschools may open consistent with state and local guidance. However, some counties and cities have local orders in place that are more restrictive than the state childcare guidance, so childcare providers should review their local public health orders to determine the limits on operation within their county or city.
Additional Guidance for Childcare Facilities
Most of what was included in the CDPH’s previous guidance released on June 5, 2020 on the reopening of childcare facilities remains in effect. However, the CDPH set forth the following additional guidance for childcare facilities:
- Children aged 2 years and older should wear face coverings, especially when indoors or when a six-foot distance from others cannot be maintained.
• Face coverings are strongly encouraged for children between two years old and second grade.
• Face shields are an acceptable alternative for children in this cohort.
• The state has provided funding and materials to support child care programs to access cleaning supplies and essential protective gear, such as masks. Childcare providers should contact their local childcare resource and referral agency to learn about what resources are currently available.
- Do not use any hand sanitizer products that contain methanol.
- Train all employees and communicate with families on the proper use, removal, and washing of face coverings and personal hygiene.
- Train all employees on the chemical hazards of cleaning materials (for childcare centers only).
- Implement necessary processes and protocols when a workplace has an outbreak in accordance with CDPH guidelines, and update protocols as needed to prevent further cases.
• Investigate the COVID-19 illness and determine if any work-related factors could have contributed to the risk of infection. Update protocols as needed to prevent further cases.
• See the CDPH guidelines, Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace, for establishing a plan to identify cases, communicate with employees and other exposed persons, and conduct and assist with contact tracing.
Notably, prior guidance from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) stated that children should remain in groups as small as possible, not to exceed 10 in a group, and facilities were required to comply with the staff/child ratios as set forth in the guidance. However, the latest CDSS guidance states that effective immediately, all statewide waivers modifying staff-to-child ratios are terminated, and childcare providers must follow requirements pursuant to Title 22, Cal. Code of Regulations, Division 12, sections 101216.3, 101216.4, 101416.5, 101516.5, 101616.5 and 102416.5.
The teacher-child ratio cannot be more than 12 children to one teacher. The teacher-child ratio increases when a teacher aide is present and assisting the teacher. When a teacher and a teacher aide are together, the ratio increases to 15 children to one teacher and one aide. If the teacher aide has the requisite educational background, and the teacher is a fully qualified teacher, the ratio further increases to 18 children to one fully qualified teacher and one qualified teacher aide. A preschool’s director may be included as a teacher in the teacher-child ratio when the director is actually engaged in the teaching of a group of children.
If a childcare center establishes a toddler component for children between the ages of 18 months and 36 months, the teacher-child ratio for that toddler component cannot exceed six toddlers to one teacher. This ratio increases to 12 toddlers when either two teachers or one fully qualified teacher and one teacher aide are present. Childcare facilities who wish to operate with alternative ratios must request and obtain a waiver from their CDSS Regional Office, which reviews waiver requests on a case-by-case basis.
For information regarding the Governor’s statewide restrictions on the reopening of K-12 public and private schools, including updated state guidelines and requirements on in person and distance learning, please see the LCW special bulletin at https://www.lcwlegal.com/news/governor-announces-restrictions-on-the-reopening-of-k-12-schools-for-in-person-instruction-and-issues-new-state-guidance. LCW will discuss the new state guidelines and requirements during the Return to School Webinar on July 31st.