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New guidelines released for child care operations with kids under 5 during COVID-19

child care
Posted at 6:10 AM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 09:59:41-05

New COVID-19 guidelines have officially been released by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) for those who operate child care groups.

It involves an update for children younger than 5 years old.

With the spread of COVID-19 and highly transmissible variants, health and safety protocols are recommended to ensure children, families and staff members are as safe as possible.

LARA said quarantine and isolation determined by local health departments are important tools to prevent the spread of disease:

  • You isolate when you are already infected with COVID-19 and have tested positive, even if you do not have symptoms. Isolation is used to separate people who are infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected.
  • You quarantine when you might have been exposed to COVID-19. This is because you might become infected with COVID-19 and could spread the virus to others.

Child care providers for all staff and school-aged care (age 5 and older) and child care staff who care for children under age 5 are being asked to follow the quarantine and isolation guidance for K-12.

Isolation Guidelines: Children under age 5 who are symptomatic and/or test positive for COVID-19

When a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms:

  • isolate from other children and staff and get sent home as soon as possible;
  • get tested if you have symptoms regardless of vaccination status;
  • COVID-positive children and/or symptomatic children should isolate for the full 10 days;
  • if a child has a fever, they should stay home until they are fever-free for a period of 24 hours without use of medication

Quarantine Guidelines: Children under age 5 who have been exposed to COVID-19

When a child is exposed to someone with COVID-19 and is identified as a close contact:

  • child care provider will notify families of the close contact;
  • implement the quarantine period where the child must quarantine for 10 days after last date of exposure to a COVID-19 positive staff or child;
  • program should conduct contact tracing;
  • close contacts who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days do not need to quarantine

LARA suggests providers should continue to strictly enforce their sick policy. The presence of any of the symptoms below suggests a child has an infectious illness and should not attend child care, regardless of whether the illness is COVID-19.

  • Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Sore throat
  • New uncontrolled cough (for children with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Difficulty breathing (for children with asthma, a change from their baseline breathing)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting or stomachache
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever

Children are also encouraged to stay home if they have other signs of illness described in the provider's sick policy. LARA said providers should encourage families to contact their healthcare provider or follow up with a local clinic/urgent care before returning to care.

Prevention Strategies
Child care facilities have many different groups of people in the building at one time including children who aren't eligible to be vaccinated yet. LARA said there are several prevention strategies supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that may be used to reduce transmission of COVID-19, and variants, in the child care building.

For a more in-depth list of prevention strategies, click here.

Child care providers are strongly encouraged to notify their licensing consultant if there is a COVID-19 positive in the facility and/or if they are closed.

The CDC has information on vaccinations and CDC guidance up on their website.