Updated Washington State Child Care Guidance
On April 14, 2021 Guidance from Washington State DOH for Child Care, Youth Development and Day Camps During COVID-19 was updated. The following information has been updated or recently added.
The total maximum group size has been increased to no more than 30 children and adults in a cohort. This change allows for school-age groups to operate at full licensing capacity.
All licensing ratios must still be maintained. An example of this would be a total of 8 infants (0-11 months) and 2 staff members or 20 preschoolers (30 months to 6 years) and 2 staff members.
Physical Distancing and Cohorting
New recommendations from CDC and DOH are that children and youth be physically distanced by at least three feet or more within groups and in rooms as much as possible.
Consider this during:
- Circle time
- Individual play times.
- While waiting in line.
In certain circumstances, children and youth must still maintain six feet of distance:
Remember that in the event a positive case is identified with your child care, anyone who was within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for 15 minutes or more total time will need to be quarantined.
- Between different groups or cohorts.
- In common areas, such as auditoriums.
- When masks can’t be worn, such as when eating and sleeping.
- During activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as singing or shouting.
The updated guidance states “Programs must ensure at least six feet of physical distance between different groups” and “Do not mix groups during daily activities, and limit combining of groups at the beginning and end of the day to the extent possible. If groups are combined, track which groups (including children’s and staff’s names) and the timeframe.” Ideally, if they must be combined, children from different classroom groups who are combined in the early mornings or late afternoons should be kept in separate parts of the classroom with 6 feet of space in between. For example, if 3 children from one class need to be combined with 2 children from a different classroom, have the children play in two separate areas of the classroom with a 6’ buffer space in between. The teacher can supervise both groups.
The latest guidance refers to the CDC recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated, travel, quarantine, and direct service providers.
In Snohomish County, quarantine for close contacts for all congregate child and youth group settings, including child cares and schools, remains 14 days from last exposure to a case of COVID-19.
Working with Local Public Health
A new section was added to the guidance that provides information on reporting cases and the importance of working with local public health. The guidance states, “All cases of COVID-19 and outbreaks in child care programs must be reported to the local health department per Washington State law.” In Snohomish County, please call 425-252-5415 to report cases.
Other Guidance Updates
There are several other updates included in this version. Some changes help align the child care and K-12 school guidance. Here are a few noteworthy updates:
- Health screening does not require exclusion for those awaiting COVID-19 test results when they were done as part of surveillance or asymptomatic screening. Those who have symptoms or were close contacts and are awaiting test results must be excluded.
- Added “before and after putting on or adjusting face coverings or masks” and “after use of shared material or equipment” to handwashing guidance.
- Additional information is now provided for types of face coverings and clarification that face coverings should not be worn by children while they are napping.
- The sanitation section was updated. Follow DCYF licensing requirements for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection “but increase how often you clean.”
- For sensory play, outdoor sandboxes may be used provided hands are washed thoroughly afterwards, and if sensory tables or bins are used, they should be filled with items that are easy to clean and sanitize or ones that can be easily replaced after each group of children. Hands must be washed before and after sensory table play. Playdough and other similar, hard to clean sensory items should still be for individual use only.
- Field trips are still not advised per CDC guidance.
Snohomish Health District continues to recommend that children ages 2-4 wear face covers. Children age 5 and up and all adults must wear face coverings.
Snohomish Health District Child Care Health Outreach Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425.252.5415.