As childcare centers reopen with care, they must follow Safe Mode guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The reopening guidance includes restrictions on the number of participants and requirements for masks, physical distance between participants, and handwashing—all to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The City’s guidelines for childcare providers are available online. Here’s what that means for families seeking childcare.
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 mask 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.
- Readily share daily family health updates.
- Clean 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.
- If someone in your child’s home has symptoms of COVID, that person will get tested.
- If your child was exposed to someone with COVID-19, they must stay home for 14 days.
COVID-like illness is defined as cough, shortness of breath, or any 2 of the following symptoms: fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.
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.
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?
Responsibilities for childcare centers include:
Promote healthy habits:
- All staff will wear masks.
- Staff and children will practice hand hygiene.
- 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.
Promote social distancing:
- Increase the space between cribs/rest mats.
- Limit classroom size to less than 22 people (teachers plus students).
- Restrict nonessential visitors and volunteers.
- 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:
- Visual inspection
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 for information on what to expect if someone becomes sick at the childcare center and when they can return.
If a provider believes there was a COVID-19 case at your childcare center (child or staff), they should call the Philadelphia Department of Public Health at 215-685-6741 for further instructions.
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.
- [PDF] Childcare Providers Frequently Asked Questions During COVID-19: Addresses frequently asked questions from childcare facilities operating in Philadelphia during COVID-19. The information is based on Philadelphia Department of Public Health, (PDPH), OCDEL, and CDC guidance.
- [PDF] What to do if someone is exposed to COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-like illness: This flowchart, designed for childcare providers, provides directions on what to do if someone at the center is exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case or has COVID-like symptoms.
- [Video] Childcare and Early Childhood Education Centers Reopening Webinar June 2020: This webinar recording from June 25 is hosted by Dr. Stacey Kallem from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Learn about health and safety recommendations for childcare facilities operating during COVID-19.
- [Video] Childcare and Early Education Guidelines During Covid-19 Safe Mode: The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) made a video demonstrating the guidance that childcare and early learning centers must follow when they reopen.
- [Presentation] Safer at Home Guidelines for Childcare & Early Childhood Education Centers: These presentation slides from PDPH review the Safe Mode guidelines and provide additional context on childcare and COVID-19.
All caregivers and staff must wear masks.
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
- Children during naptime.
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).