JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance for child care programs during the pandemic urges mask-wearing for everyone age 2 and up, as well as air ventilation and other strategies for providers.
Parents know it can be a struggle to get toddlers to cover their faces and child care workers said requiring it adds stress on everyone involved.
“We don’t really see the point in requiring 2 and up to 6(-year-olds) to wear a mask,” said Jennifer Freeman, owner of The Discovery Tree Academy.
Freeman said Monday on The Morning Show that if she had seen a surge in cases in her daycare she might feel differently.
“We have to look at what is best for children,” Freeman said. “If I don’t have evidence that they’re getting sick because they are not wearing a mask. I know the best way to educate children is for them to smile and talk to each other, to have fun and not be stressed about putting a mask over their face -- at least not in a childcare setting.”
Temple DePlato, CAO of Episcopal Children’s Services, said she will not require young children at her centers to wear a face covering for the same reasons.
DePlato, like Freeman, said they support mask-wearing and require staff to wear face coverings and have strictly followed other CDC guidelines since the pandemic has started -- and that has worked. Both also checked temperatures upon entrance and require staff who are sick to stay home.
“We’ve had very little exposure in our centers,” DePlato said.
CDC’s latest guidance is for all types of child care programs, including child care centers, family child care homes, Head Start programs and other pre-kindergarten programs. The guidance outlines “strategies that child care programs can use to maintain healthy environments and operations, lower the risk of COVID-19 spread in their programs, prepare for when someone is sick with COVID-19, and support coping and resilience.”
The guidance replaces advisory documents the CDC posted last summer.
“As we learn more about the virus, CDC experts updated that guidance several times throughout 2020,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Friday. “Science includes additional evidence showing that, when used consistently and correctly, prevention strategies such as mask-wearing, staying home when sick, and good hand hygiene can allow childcare programs to operate safely and reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
It’s meant for programs that care for children before they start kindergarten. That includes preschool programs and home-based family child care programs.
“I also want to stress that our childcare guidance emphasizes the importance of COVID-19 vaccination as an additional layer of prevention for childcare workers,” Walensky said. “I strongly encourage America’s childcare workers to get vaccinated.”
Last week, the US Department of Health and Human Services directed COVID-19 vaccine providers to make vaccine doses available to education and childcare workers.