Dec 8, 2020 - Health

How Head Start child care programs handled COVID-19 safety

Illustration of a child in a medical mask under a magnifying glass surrounded by circles of different colors

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Head Start programs may provide a model for how to implement coronavirus protections in child-care facilities, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The evidence so far suggests that schools and day care centers aren't responsible for large outbreaks, and can be kept open safely. But proper precautions are still necessary to keep them safe and to protect the adults who work there.

Details: The CDC took stock of the mitigation measures in Head Start programs in eight states.

  • In addition to some common interventions — including more frequent cleaning, mask mandates for staff, and some physical dividers in play areas — those programs offered flexible work schedules, including work-from-home options, especially for high-risk employees.

Yes, but: Head Start programs remained open because they had the federal funds and resources to implement these strategies. Child care centers that can't afford flexible staffing may still have to close their doors, especially as cases rise.

  • Nearly half of America's child care centers risk closures — a big economic risk for Black and Latina women, who make up 40% of the child care workforce, AP notes.
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