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DECAL issues letter on safe practices for child care providers

May 13, 2020

Dear Child Care Provider:


The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is committed to supporting early learning and school-age providers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. DECAL recognizes the vital role that providers, including their teaching staff, play in the support of Georgia’s children and families, especially during a public health crisis. DECAL also recognizes the important role of the early learning industry in the economic stability of the state.

Early education programs licensed by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), including Child Care Learning Centers, Family Child Care Learning Homes, Pre-K Programs, license exempt providers, and Child and Adult Food Programs and Summer Food Service Program Institutions and Sites, shall maintain full compliance with all DECAL directives and guidance.

The following practices align with the Governor’s 5.12.20 Executive Order effective May 14, 2020 and with CDC guidelines for open child care programs during the COVID-19 health crisis and must be implemented by all open and reopening child care programs until further notice.

Limit group sizes to a maximum of 20 people per room, including teachers. No early education program shall allow more than twenty (20) persons to be gathered at a single location. The term “single location” shall be interpreted to mean a space where all persons gathered cannot maintain at least six (6) feet of distance between themselves and any other person. For child care purposes, this means a single classroom. Teachers cannot adequately care for children and maintain six feet of distance. Staff:Child Ratios and classroom License Capacities set forth by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning must also be maintained at all times.

Restrict eating to classrooms instead of congregate/communal settings. Based on the recommendations for group settings, providers must provide meals in classrooms rather than a congregate/communal setting. Family style dining should also be suspended until further notice.

Health Screenings upon arrival (temperature check). Providers should have the necessary equipment to provide temperature checks for children and staff on arrival. Further, all visitors, staff, and children in such facilities shall be screened prior to entrance and shall be excluded if they have a fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or exhibit respiratory symptoms, including cough or shortness of breath. Staff conducting daily health screenings should use the appropriate PPE.

Restrict Access. Child care programs must restrict families’ access to parts of the program. Specifically, access must be limited to the front door of the facility or the door of the child’s classroom. No visitors should be allowed inside the facility.

Sanitize and disinfect. In addition to the rigorous hygiene, sanitation, and disinfection licensing rules child care providers adhere to in their programs, special attention must be paid to the following:

  • Surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, especially toys and games must be cleaned. This includes cleaning objects/surfaces not ordinarily cleaned daily such as doorknobs, light switches, classroom sink handles, countertops, nap pads, toilet training potties, desks, chairs, cubbies, and playground structures.

  • Toys that cannot be cleaned and sanitized should not be used.

  • Toys that children have placed in their mouths or that are otherwise contaminated by body secretions or excretions should be set aside until they are cleaned by hand by a person wearing gloves.

  • Machine washable cloth toys should be used by one individual at a time or should not be used at all. These toys should be laundered before being used by another child.

  • Do not share toys with other groups of infants or toddlers, unless they are washed and sanitized before being moved from one group to the other.

  • Set aside toys that need to be cleaned. Place in a dish pan with soapy water or put in a separate container marked for “soiled toys.”

  • Use bedding (sheets, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags) that can be washed. Keep each child’s bedding separate, and consider storing in individually labeled bins, cubbies, or bags. Cots and mats should be labeled for each child. Bedding that touches a child’s skin should be cleaned weekly or before use by another child.

Modify sign-in/sign-out procedures. Child care providers must sign children in and out of the facility for the families if they use a computer/keypad system. A tablet can also be used outside of the building during drop-off and pick-up to allow families to complete the check-in/check-out process, but the tablet must be disinfected after each use. Providers can also use paper system. If pens are used, they should be sanitized with a disinfectant wipe or other means before another person uses the pen.

The attached document provides resources to assist you with complying with the Executive Order. If you have questions about the Executive Order or DECAL support, you may contact us at ChildCareServices@decal.ga.gov. Additionally, for information and updates on COVID-19, including DECAL’s Frequently Asked Questions for each DECAL division, please visit http://www.decal.ga.gov/BFTS/Covid19.aspx. Please also continue to visit the websites of the Governor’s Office, Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest and most accurate information.

We ask that you continue to maintain your operating status whether your program is open or closed in your DECAL KOALA account so that families may access the information to locate care available in their communities.

Thanks for all you do for Georgia’s children and their families.

Sincerely,

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Pam Stevens

Deputy Commissioner for Child Care Services

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