The following guidelines will help childcare and early childhood education centers manage the risk of COVID-19 for children and staff. To get updates from the City of Philadelphia about COVID-19, text COVIDPHL to 888-777

The following are ways we can all do our part to help children and staff at childcare and early education centers stay healthy and safe as Philadelphia begins to reopen.

Parents and guardians:

Promote healthy habits:

  • Wear a properly fitted face mask that completely covers your nose and mouth at pick-up and drop-off.
  • Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol or wash your hands for at least 20 seconds during pick-up and drop-off.

Please consider informing your site should there be a COVID related quarantine or isolation affecting your household.

  • Launder bedding and other items that touch your child’s skin at least weekly.

Promote social distancing:

  • Stay at least six feet from others at pick-up and drop-off.
  • Drop-off and pick-up your child at the scheduled time.
  • Avoid gathering with people outside of your household.

Keep children home if sick or exposed to COVID-19:

  • If a child has symptoms of COVID-like illness, do not send your child to the center.
    • COVID-like illness is defined as at least ONE of these major symptoms: new or persistent cough, shortness of breath, new loss of sense of smell, new loss of sense of taste, OR at least TWO of these minor symptoms: fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion/runny nose. 
  • If someone in your child’s home has symptoms of COVID, consider testing for that person AND isolate that individual until test results are received. Find a testing site in Philadelphia.
  • If a staff member or child has been exposed to anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 10 days, they should return or remain home, quarantine, and consider seeking testing. Learn about how to calculate the required isolation and quarantine period.

Maintain an open line of communication with childcare centers:

It is important to learn about your center’s new policies. Ask about drop-off, pick-up, and communication policies as these may have changed. For example, drop-off now includes daily family health updates (including your child’s temperature). Pick-up your child at the scheduled pick-up time. Drop-off and pick-up times may be different from what you’re used to.

To protect children and staff, parents and guardians agree to keep children at home if they have a COVID-like illness. Learn about the Philadelphia Department of Health parent/guardian agreement.

As your child returns to childcare, monitor, and communicate your child’s evolving needs to your provider including:

  • How is your child’s health?
  • What is your child learning?
  • What are the daily routines at your childcare center?
  • What activities does your child enjoy?

Childcare centers:

Responsibilities for childcare centers include:

Promote healthy habits:

  • All staff will wear well-fitting face masks that entirely cover the nose and mouth.
  • Staff and children will practice robust hand hygiene by either handwashing or use of at least 60% hand sanitizer as needed throughout the day.
  • Centers will screen staff or instruct them on self-monitoring for symptoms.
  • Centers will screen families or instruct them on self-monitoring for symptoms.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect the center and high touch area with approved cleaning agents.

Promote social distancing:

  • Increase the space between cribs/rest mats.
  • Limit classroom size to no more than 22 people (teachers plus students).
  • Restrict nonessential visitors and volunteers.

Restrict gatherings:

  • Field trips
  • Public playground use
  • Children interacting with children outside of their classrooms

Perform daily health screenings:

All childcare facilities should create a daily screening checklist for students, staff, and caregivers including:

  • Fever
  • COVID-like symptoms
  • Visual inspection for illness
  • Exposure to others that have been diagnosed with COVID

The City has published a screening template and other resources that providers can use as part of their safety protocol.

Read the full childcare guidelines.

If a provider believes there was a COVID-19 case at their childcare center (child or staff), they should call the Philadelphia Department of Public Health at 215-685-6741 OR email for further instructions.

Providers should report positive cases using this online form from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which will follow up to conduct contact tracing and collect additional information.

This centralized form will also notify OCDEL’s Bureau of Certification, Early Learning Resource Center #18, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Office of Children and Families. There still may be additional agencies with whom providers need to report positive cases, but the form will provide copy of the report that providers can share with all other agencies.


Read the guideline and learn more

Want to learn more? The City has published a six-page guide outlining childcare safety practices during Safe Mode. You can read it here.

Additional resources:

Mask-wearing guidance

All caregivers and staff must wear well-fitting facemasks that completely cover their noses and mouths.

 Face masks should not be placed on:

  • Babies and children younger than 2 years old.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
  • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering
    without assistance.
  • Children during naptime.

Find childcare

Families seeking childcare can call the Early Learning Resource Center at 215-382-4762. PHLpreK is now enrolling pre-K students for the fall; find a center here or call 844-PHL-PREK (844-745-7735).


Information is updated daily on the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 webpage. Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone. Call the helpline 24/7 to speak with a health care professional: 1-800-722-7112.