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?

Childcare centers:

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.

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
  • Symptoms
  • Visual inspection
  • Exposure

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.

Additional resources:

Mask-wearing guidance

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
    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.