The following important changes to group size, program size, temperature checks and Care4Kids are included in the information below from the Office of Early Childhood:
Dear Child Care and Youth Camp Community,
The Office of Early Childhood is sharing these critical announcements related to child care and youth camp operations effective Monday, June 22, 2020. These changes were approved by Connecticut’s statewide Re-Opening Rules Committee on Friday, June 19th and are in effect during the COVID-19 emergency. We believe it is important to share this information quickly. There are many different individual and types of controls that can be implemented in schools, childcare programs, youth camps, or other environments that can help to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks or ideally, to help prevent them entirely. Some of these might include things like reducing group/class sizes, mask wearing for source control, social distancing, as well as many others. In making decisions about which control recommendations are appropriate to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in any situation or population, public health officials consider several confounding factors that may impact the effectiveness of any single or group of controls to be implemented. Some of these confounding factors include: the age of the population; the space available to allow for appropriate distancing (and whether that space is indoors or outdoors); the frequency of close contacts (within 6 feet) that could reasonably be anticipated; the specific activities and movements of groups; and the total time (hours/day and days/week) groups of students/children in care are likely to be interacting together.
The Re-Opening Rules Committee considered the above factors and now the Office of Early Childhood announces these changes to child care and youth camp operating requirements.
- Group Size: The Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, has modified the group size requirement to no more than fourteen children in one space. Such spaces may be divided by half walls, half doors or other physical barriers. In rooms large enough to accommodate multiple groups of children, sharing of the room by multiple groups of children creates increased risk. A minimum distance of six feet must be maintained between groups of children.
- Maximum Program Size: The Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, has removed the requirement that programs serving more than 50 children (previously 30) must obtain approval from the OEC. Programs previously approved are now held to the same requirements as those programs serving fewer children.
- Temperature Screenings: The Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, has determined that temperature screenings will no longer be required for children and staff. While these were considered an important step over the past 3 months, new guidance about their value, weighed against the challenges this creates (distancing as individuals line up, staff member who has contact with every child, staffing costs) has led to the dropping of this element of health screening as a spread prevention tool. Programs should work with staff and families to ask for their cooperation in staying out of care settings when exhibiting any symptoms of illness. Health screening remains an important tool for managing the spread of illness.
- School Readiness Funding: School Readiness Priority School District programs have historically been paid a month in arears. This means that they would not receive their June funding until July of the next fiscal year. Given the COVID-19 fiscal challenges, the OEC will be sending the June payment in June to PSD communities. For SFY 2021, payments will no longer be made in arrears. We believe this is an important program stabilization adjustment going forward.
Programs are expected to follow all public health guidance for child care and youth camps during the COVID-19 emergency. Licensing requirements that exceed these COVID-19 related requirements still apply and must be followed. For example, in child care programs, a group size of eight and a ratio of 1:4 for children under the age of three shall be maintained, groups of children under the age of three shall be separated by a physical barrier, and the licensed capacity of rooms based on square footage shall not be exceeded. Programs may establish more stringent requirements as long as they maintain licensing requirements. The OEC Memos, guides, FAQs and other resources will be updated on the OEC COVID-19 website in the very near future to reflect these changes. The enhanced requirements related to COVID-19 will continue to be evaluated alongside the most current public health guidance and will be modified as deemed appropriate.