What to Ask Caregivers and Daycare Centers

By Annette Pinder

As families with young children settle into “back to school” routines, the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) recommends that parents ask their providers some important questions regarding their COVID-19 safety protocols.

  • What is your center’s policy on mask use for staff, children and others who enter the building?
  • How do you screen staff, parents, children, and vendors who enter your center for COVID-19 symptoms?
  • Are childcare center staff fully vaccinated? Do all staff know how to access COVID-19 testing?
  • Do center staff rotate to different rooms during the day or during the week?
  • Does the center have a process for having staff return to work or children return to care, following illness?

“Most children in childcare settings are too young, under 12 years of age, to be eligible for COVID vaccination,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein, noting that these children are particularly vulnerable to infection.” Dr. Burstein also points out that the CDC recommends that early care and education programs implement universal mask use in areas that have substantial or high COVID-19 transmission, noting that layered COVID-19 prevention strategies protect adults and children in these settings. “We strongly encourage childcare centers to follow these strategies that will help reduce the risk for COVID-19 infections in their facilities, and in the community’s school settings and youth sports programs,” says Dr. Burstein.

ECDOH recently reported that the highest positivity rates continue to be in individuals under age 19. At the time this article was published, children ages 5-10 and 14-17 had positivity rates of more than 7 percent, while children ages 11-13 had a positivity rate of nearly 10 percent. The ECDOH office of epidemiology found clusters of COVID-19 cases associated with childcare centers in late August and early September. This coincides with a nationwide increase in COVID-19 cases for youth and adolescents.

Governor Kathy Hochul also issued new guidelines requiring that face coverings be worn by all staff and visitors at all state-regulated childcare facilities for children ages two and up, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more at https://tinyurl.com/puf5rm5e.

Childcare centers with questions about how ECDOH guidance applies to their programs can contact schools@erie.gov. For additional information on CDC childcare guidance, visit https://tinyurl.com/nnmkj7u9. For ECDOH, Covid-19 vaccine and clinic schedules, visit http://www.erie.gov/vax. To reach the ECDOH COVID Hotline, call 716-858-2929. For weekly COVID updates, see https://tinyurl.com/4svtyvue.