Across the country, many offices and workplaces are asking that their workers return, which is causing parents to scramble for child care. But given the continued concerns about the safety of their children and families, parents will look for child care centers that take all the necessary steps to mitigate virus spread.
As child care administrators and their staff members work to implement new health- and safety-focused policies and procedures, there’s one important process that shouldn’t be overlooked: child care pick-up and drop-off.
In the past, many child care centers have operated with an open-door policy, treating parents like family, and encouraging engagement and conversation during pick-up and drop-off – but with COVID-19 in the mix, it’s time to change that.
When parents, kids and child care providers are in close contact during pick-up and drop-off times, the risk of transmitting COVID-19 can increase significantly.
To do their part, child care centers will need to modify their pick-up and drop-off procedures to minimize contact between parents and child care providers, and enforce social distancing.
At Procare, we believe in helping child care centers prepare for every challenge – big or small. We’re doing our part by offering these seven best practices that child care administrators can implement to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during child pick-up and drop-off.
Child Care Pick-up & Drop-off: 7 Best Practices During Coronavirus
Rethink Your Open-Door Policy
Many child care centers operate on an open-door policy where parents simply walk in the front door to drop off or pick up their kids.
However, it is no longer practical or safe to allow parents – or anyone for that matter – into your child care facility unless necessary. Anyone entering your facility from outside could bring the virus with them, contaminating surfaces or spreading the virus through respiratory droplets.
If you learn that someone with COVID-19 entered your facility, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a two- to five-day closure to allow for deep cleaning, disinfecting surfaces and contact tracing.
During coronavirus, everyone is safer if parents can perform check-ins without physically entering your facility. Child care centers can still use parent engagement software solutions to share images of learning activities and exciting moments that take place throughout the day.
Invest in a Contactless Check-in Solution
Child care administrators can significantly reduce the spread of infection during child care pick-up and drop-off by investing in a contactless check-in solution.
Procare offers two solutions that child care centers can implement to mitigate infection risk:
- QR Codes – Procare customers can use QR codes to facilitate contactless check-in. The center initiates the check-in by displaying a QR code on a device at a check-in kiosk. Parents can scan the QR code and complete the check-in process using their own mobile phone, so there’s no device-sharing and no physical contact.
- Curbside Contactless GPS Sign In/Out – Procare users can take advantage of our curbside sign in/out feature, which uses GPS technology and geofencing to enable check-ins within a radius set by your center. Once the feature is enabled, parents receive automatic alerts when they’re close to your facility and can complete check-in without leaving their vehicle.
Protect Child Care Staff with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If you’re re-opening your child care center during coronavirus, your staff are going to need basic personal protective equipment (PPE) to perform their job roles safely.
This is especially true during child pick-up and drop-off times, where child care providers face the greatest risk of being exposed to coronavirus by a parent or guardian.
On its website, the CDC states that child care providers don’t need to wear PPE if they can maintain a distance of six feet, but this condition also depends on the behavior of children and their parents – factors out of the control of child care providers.
Child care providers should always wear face coverings during pick-up and drop-off times to protect themselves and avoid spreading germs to others. Face coverings have been shown to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets during speech, and it’s no coincidence countries that quickly adopted widespread mask-wearing have had fewer cases of coronavirus than those that didn’t.
Stagger Pick-up and Drop-off Times
Staggering pick-up and drop-off times at your child care center can reduce crowding around your center during high-traffic times, helping to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Centers will have to communicate with parents directly and individually to coordinate staggered pick-ups, as not all parents may be willing or able to modify their schedules. Child care providers can meet parents outside the center as they arrive, perform a verbal health screening, check temperatures if required, then walk the child into the center.
Families should be encouraged to choose one parent or a designated person who will drop the child off and pick them up from the center each day.
Screen Kids for COVID-19 Symptoms on Arrival
Child care providers should perform a basic screening for COVID-19 symptoms on each child upon their arrival to the center and before allowing them into the building.
Providers can follow a simple three-step process to make sure they’re doing their due diligence on every screening:
1. Ask – Ask parents whether their child has shown any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever or shortness of breath.
2. Look – Visually inspect the child for any signs of fever or illness, such as sweating, flushed cheeks, rapid breathing, fatigue or obvious discomfort.
3. Check – Check the child’s temperature using a contactless thermometer and following the appropriate CDC protocols.
Set up Hand Hygiene Stations at Facility Entrances
Handwashing is the hot new skill on child care provider resumes in 2020.
During the coronavirus pandemic, child care providers will have to practice excellent infection prevention techniques, especially hand hygiene, which may be the most important of all. They’ll also need to teach hand hygiene skills to kids, and model excellent hand hygiene skills and habits each day.
The first thing kids will need to learn is the social etiquette of infection prevention at your child care center, and that starts with washing or sanitizing their hands before they enter the facility each day.
Positioning hygiene stations outside your center ensures that kids walk through the doors with clean hands, and gives them the opportunity to practice their hygiene skills where they can receive praise and positive reinforcement from both child care providers and their parent or guardian.
Promote Safety by Supporting Social Distancing
Child care centers can implement policies to promote social distancing within the confines of four walls but encouraging kids and parents to practice social distancing outside the facility can be a challenge.
Child care administrators may need to find creative solutions here. We’ve already heard of many businesses using duct tape or other indicators on the sidewalk that remind patrons to physically distance. Child care administrators can experiment with using arrows, stickers and signs to direct traffic outside their front doors and promote social distancing.
Child care administrators are encouraged to get creative, communicate their needs and expectations with parents, and use signs or other structural tools to promote compliance with social distancing protocols.
Procare Solutions: Safeguarding Your Reopening During COVID-19
Are you struggling to reopen your child care center during COVID-19? Procare offers a powerful child care management platform with the capabilities you need to be prepared for anything when reopening your center.
In addition to implementing contactless check-in, you’ll be able to engage parents with personalized messages or newsletters that keep them informed of your new policies and procedures, set behavioral expectations, and encourage them to collaborate with you in protecting the community from coronavirus transmission.
Let us help you reopen!