AUSTIN (KXAN) — The agency that helps regulate child care centers in Texas has put out guidelines that restrict visitors and increase screening, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Effective as of Monday, all child care providers must restrict those who have access to their facility only to:
- Operation staff
- Persons with legal authority to enter, including law enforcement officers, HHSC Child Care Licensing staff and Department of Family and Protective Services staff
- Professionals providing services to children
- Children enrolled at the operation
- Parents or legal guardians who have children enrolled and present at the operation.
Parents will also have to pick up and drop off their children outside the facilities, and anyone who enters will have to be screened, including having their temperatures taken.
People will not be able to enter if they meet the following:
- A temperature of 100.4°F or above
- Signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and low-grade fever
- In the previous 14 days has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19; is under investigation for COVID-19; or is ill with a respiratory illness; or
- In the previous 14 days has traveled internationally to countries with widespread, sustained community transmission
“Protecting the health and safety of children in the settings we regulate is paramount,” said David Kostroun, HHS Deputy Executive Commissioner of Regulatory Services, in a release. “We are taking these proactive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard children and their families.”
Finally, the guidelines say children should be provided individual meals and snacks, not group meals.
Some child care facilities don’t think these guidelines are enough.
“We are getting some guidelines down, but they’re vague,” Raye Sansom, owner and director of Lonestar Kids explained.
She said there has been no guidance in terms of whether they should stay open, or close, like some schools across the state.
“We’re making these decisions on our own, we have not been mandated to close,” Sansom said.
Many child care facilities are choosing to follow school districts, however, including Sansom. She said Lonestar Kids will follow Austin Independent School District’s policy, beginning tomorrow.
Other facilities, like the YMCA, are based in the schools themselves.
“When the schools shut down, we can’t go in,” Austin YMCA CEO James Finck explained.
That brings up another concern: the YMCA in Austin employs 450 in its child care programs.
“When you have that many employees that you’re paying, with no revenue coming in… you have no choice. so when do those stop and when can we quit making the cuts? that’s still undetermined,” Fink said.
While the YMCA is closed, the organization in Austin is working on a plan to operate child care facilities for emergency personnel, doctors, nurses and those working on the frontline to fight COVID-19.
The plan is currently being reviewed by the city of Austin.