COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs


Key Takeaways

  • Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination among eligible individuals can help Early Care and Education (ECE) programs protect staff and children in their care, as well as their families.

  • Most ECE programs serve children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered COVID-19 prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together) to protect children and adults who are not fully vaccinated.

  • COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including children and staff, who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.

  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (ages 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. ECE settings may implement universal mask use in some situations, such as if they serve a population not yet eligible for vaccination or if they have increasing, substantial, or high COVID-19 transmission in their ECE program or community.

  • Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, the occurrence of outbreaks, and local policies and regulations to guide decisions on the use of layered prevention strategies.

Summary of Recent Changes

  • Updated the guidance for mask use and physical distancing for fully vaccinated people. Generally, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

  • Expanded the guidance for how organizations can promote vaccinations among staff and families.

  • Updated the guidance for outdoor mask use among people who are not fully vaccinated. Generally, people can be outdoors without masks.

  • Added information on health equity.

  • Updated the guidance for mask use and physical distancing for fully vaccinated people. Generally, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

  • Expanded the guidance for how organizations can promote vaccinations among staff and families.

  • Updated the guidance for outdoor mask use among people who are not fully vaccinated. Generally, people can be outdoors without masks.

  • Added information on health equity.

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