Over the summer, many child care centers relaxed their rules on wearing masks as the COVID-19 pandemic had been winding down.
But the Delta variant has thrown a wrench into many of the plans to return to normalcy. State and local governments have handled masking ordinances in vastly different ways, which leads to confusion for daycares and schools.
Further complicating the issue is that parents have wildly differing opinions, from wanting staff and children to wear masks to advocating against them.
Let’s take a look at what’s happening across the country regarding rules on when masks must be worn, and by whom. And we’ll share five tips you can use to effectively share rule changes with the families you serve.
It wasn’t long ago that mask mandates were being lifted around the country. But in recent weeks, new mandates have gone into place requiring masks be worn once again — something that’s a hot topic as the school year begins.
Louisiana issued a statewide mask mandate until at least Sept. 1 that includes students from kindergarten to college. And in Illinois, the governor ordered face coverings for all school children from preschool through 12th grade.
And governors in Texas and Florida issued executive orders barring local requirements to wear face masks, even as some school districts are opting to require masks as well, regardless of state rules.
It’s a tricky position to be in, and keeping parents informed will be key to navigating the start to this school year and operations at your child care center.
How to Communicate Mask Rule Changes to Families
You must keep track of evolving rules at the local, state and national levels. As you do so, and make the decision about masks inside your building, keep these tips in mind when communicating changes to your families:
1. Give Plenty of Lead-Up Time
You don’t want to spring changes on your customers.
Instead, tell families that you plan to change mask requirements at your child care center on a specific date. This will give parents time to grow accustomed to the changes and prepare for them.
If you can, implement the change with a week or two of advanced notice. This is a long enough period of time for parents to prepare, but not so long that they forget or grow restless waiting for the change to finally take effect.
2. Communicate in Multiple Ways
When you make your announcement regarding mask rule changes, do it through a variety of channels. For example, you and your staff can tell parents in-person when they pick up their kids and can also post signs around your facility or send an email blast.
You want to make sure that parents know exactly what the changes entail and when you plan to implement them. So plan to make multiple announcements during your lead-up time.
Additionally, don’t just communicate that your mask ordinance is changing, tell parents why. Has the CDC released new information? Has your local government tightened its regulations? Have a large portion of your families started to complain about face mask requirements?
Giving parents a reason for the face-covering change will help them get on board.
3. Be Flexible With Your Families
Be as flexible as you can when it comes to your mask rules.
If you’re not mandating that masks be worn, and some parents feel more comfortable wearing their mask while inside your facility, then let them. If they ask you to watch their children extra closely to make sure their masks stay on throughout the day, do your best to oblige them in this request.
You’ll develop a better relationship with your customers if you’re flexible and work to accommodate their needs as much as you can, while of course following governmental regulations.
4. Stay Consistent in Your Approach
It’s really important that you stay consistent in whatever mask ordinance changes you make.
If you decide to eliminate mask requirements altogether for your daycare center, you probably shouldn’t wear a mask yourself while working with kids (unless you fall into a category in which the CDC recommends you continue to wear a mask). This sends a mixed message and could cause parents to lose faith in you and your staff.
Consistency builds trust. And if there’s one thing you need to convey to parents, it’s that they can trust you to keep their kids happy and safe while they’re away.
5. Reassess Rule Changes if Necessary
Keep an eye on your business after mask ordinance changes are made. Have parents accepted your new policies? While you never want to make company-wide decisions based on a handful of customers, you don’t want to lose a significant number of clients either.
If, for instance, a majority of the families you serve express concern over your handling of face coverings — or worse, threaten to pull their kids — you should reassess your changes, if you can do so while following the law.
Follow local regulations and executive orders when developing your child care center’s mask mandate. That way your business is protected from legal issues.
Analyze the scientific research to stay informed and comply with local regulations to make your decision about mask rules inside your child care center.
You can communicate with parents about your mask rules, and other happenings at your center, through Procare’s Parent Engagement app. Procare also offers contactless check-ins and checkouts, which can use a QR code as seen above, as well as touchless payments.
And Procare recently added a new feature to its Desktop program called Health Check Extra.
It takes the ability to log child health checks throughout the day, something offered by each of Procare’s child care software solutions, to a new level – it can track staff health checks as well.
It’s a way for health screening questions to be imported for child center employees, such as details including the staff member’s temperature or any symptoms they may be experiencing. Answers of a health questionnaire are imported directly into the software.
Request a free demonstration of Procare today to explore our software’s many business management, parent engagement and staff management tools.