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Texas day cares can now reopen, Gov. Abbott says

Texas officials released the restrictions and health protocols caregivers and parents must follow as day care centers begin to reopen May 18.

HOUSTON — All Texas parents and guardians will be able to send their young ones to child care centers starting immediately, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday at briefing on phase II of his plan to reopen the state. 

For the past few months, select child care centers were only available for children of first-responders, medical professionals and other essential workers.

Abbott said child care centers are necessary to allow many parents to return to work.

As expected, all child care employees must take required COVID-19 health and safety training ahead of welcoming back children and parents.

And if possible, the center should arrange for administrative staff to telework from their homes. Staff members or teachers age 65 or older, are encouraged to talk to their healthcare provider to assess their risk and to determine if they should stay home.

Texas guidelines recommend all child care employees wear masks or face coverings. And everyone, including parents and children, must be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms.

Child care facilities must have a regular scheduled for heavy cleaning and sanitizing the the facility and commonly touched items such as toys, changing stations, sleeping mats and so on. 

Social distancing is also required for buses and other transportation.

Read the official guideline document here. It covers specific protocol for handling infants and toddlers including diaper changing, feeding, washing and coddling.  

The new protocol is for all regulated and licensed child care centers— the most notable rule addresses child-to-caregiver ratios. 

A child care worker can only supervise up to 10 children, and day cares must reduce the maximum number of children inside the facilities at a time.

The new ratios are as such:

Credit: Texas government

Texas child cares and caregivers are required to follow the CDC rules for child care operators, which requires the following measures:

  • implement social distancing strategies
  • intensify cleaning and disinfection efforts
  • modify drop-off and pick-up procedures
  • implement screening procedures upon arrival

Many of the Texas guidelines build on the federal health guidelines.

Here's how child care facilities must navigate activities and events:

Events and group activities are strongly discouraged in child care centers. If for some reason an event must occur, child care centers should follow current CDC guidance about gatherings and events. 

Texas child care operators are also instructed to avoid scheduling events that require your children to bring items from home.

Access to the child care facility should be limited. Parents should only enter the child care center when necessary. 

It's recommended child cares limit the mixing of child groups, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate for special activities 

If possible, at nap time, ensure that children’s nap time mats (or cribs) are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart. 

It suggested the child care incorporate more outside activities, where feasible. 

Find more details about health protocols and guidelines for youth camp operators and parents here at the official Texas government website.  

What if a child or employee tests positive for COVID-19?

If a child or employee tests positive for coronavirus, the center must contact the local health authority and the child care licensing office.

The child care center must also clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, and common areas.

If a child or staff member is sick, they must be isolated and then taken home. Employees will not be allowed to return to work until they've met home isolation requirements.

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