Category: Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
For more information on the steps child care facilities who remain open to serve essential personnel in their communities, visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services website. Read more about checking temperatures and using thermometers during the COVID-19 outbreak here.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has issued a Stay at Home order for North Carolina, effective Monday, March 30th at 5 pm until April 29th, 2020
Read the Executive Order in full and see the Frequently Asked Questions.
Child care providers who are following the required NC DHHS procedures are considered essential businesses and permitted to remain open.
View the press briefing below:
According to guidance from DCDEE, only children and staff who are needed to maintain ratio should be in classrooms. In order to limit the chance of COVID-19 spread:
- Have parents drop off children outside the classroom. Staff should meet children as they are dropped off.
- Have someone posted at the entrance to talk to staff and families who are entering the building about their symptoms.
- Conduct a Daily Health Check, upon arrival, every day, for every child – and periodically throughout the day. During the COVID-19 outbreak, taking children’s temperatures during the day is another sensible precaution.
In addition, ask staff and parents of the children entering the building if they or their child is experiencing:
- Fever (temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher)
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
Exclude both staff and children who are experiencing any of these symptoms or have been in close contact with anyone with any of these symptoms.
As an additional measure, some early care and education programs are using thermometers to check for fevers, in addition to interviewing staff or families about symptoms and whether or not they have taken fever reducing medication in the last 24 hours.
Which kind of thermometer
We recommend, considering Caring for Our Children standard 126.96.36.199 and after consultation with medical professionals with the Division of Public Health, that during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Do not take oral (under the tongue) temperatures using a shared thermometer. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is most contagious through respiratory droplets coughed, sneezed or breathed out of the mouth. Even with a disposable cover that is changed between individuals, if a droplet gets on the handle it could pass from one person to another.
- Infrared (touchless) thermometers are ideal for use during the COVID-19 outbreak, as they allow multiple temperatures to be taken without the thermometer touching individuals.
- Tympanic (ear) thermometers are an option for children four months and older. However, while a tympanic thermometer gives quick results, it needs to be placed correctly in the child’s ear to be accurate and the presence of ear wax can cause the reading to be incorrect.
- Digital axillary (under the arm) and temporal (forehead) temperatures are less accurate, but are a good option for checking for fever in child care settings.
However, thermometers are in short supply and difficult to find in some areas. If an appropriate thermometer for use during the COVID-19 outbreak is not available for purchase locally or online, you can:
- Ask the family or legal guardian to fill out and sign a form that reports their child’s temperature as taken at home (or affirming the child does not have a fever) and any symptoms.
- Contact your Local Partnership for Children or Child Care Health Consultant and let them know of essential items you are unable to obtain. They may be able to coordinate with local resources about options that might be available.
Protecting staff who are performing checks during drop-off:
To protect the person posted at the entrance to the facility, consider one or more of the following suggestions:
- Have the person posted at the entrance maintain a six-foot distance from individuals as much as possible – use tape on the floor to delineate the space.
- Use a touchless thermometer if one is available.
- Have parents, family members or legal guardians bring a thermometer from home to check their own child’s temperature at drop off
- If using the facility’s thermometer:
- Do not take oral (under the tongue) temperatures because of the risk of spreading COVID-19 from respiratory droplets from the mouth.
- Let the parent or staff pick up the thermometer and take their own temporal / axillary or tympanic temperature on their child or themselves.
- Use disposable thermometer covers that are changed between individuals.
- Clean and sanitize the thermometer using manufacturer’s instructions often, and between uses if disposable covers are not available.
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer between direct contact with individuals.
Please download and read this guidance, as it includes:
- Temporary changes in normal procedures and products to follow the CDC’s Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
- Reminder to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, countertops) with cleaning products according to the directions on the label
- Guidance on increasing the concentration for disinfecting solution that follows the CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfection recommendations for childcare and schools
- Link to the EPA approved disinfectants that are effective against SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes the disease COVID-19
If you have questions, please contact a Child Care Health Consultant in your community or your local environmental health specialist.
For more information, visit the :
- NC Environmental Health Section
- Centers for Disease Control
- NC Department of Health and Human Services
And as always, handwashing is the single most effective method of controlling the spread of disease. Download and print our handwashing posters in English and Spanish by visiting our Resources page.
The NC Department of Public Safety said today that “North Carolina 2-1-1 remains open to help people with things like food assistance, questions about rent and housing and other COVID-19 related questions and concerns.” NC 2-1-1 is an information and referral service provided by United Way of North Carolina. Accessible via an easy-to-remember, three-digit number, families and individuals can call or go online to obtain free and confidential information on health and human services and resources within their community. 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Dialing 2-1-1 is free, confidential, and available in most languages.
We know many of our state’s first responders and essential workers are worried about ensuring their children have safe care while they bravely support our community, providing critical services during this unprecedented crisis.
Under the direction of Gov. Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Instruction are working with our network of partners across the state to provide child care options to children of essential workers, which includes first responders, hospital staff, front-line healthcare providers, nursing and adult group home staff, child care program staff, food service staff and others working to keep our communities safe and healthy as we respond to COVID-19— as well as care for children who are homeless or in unstable or unsafe living arrangements—who do not have access to other care arrangements at this time.
We encourage families who have flexible working arrangements to use that flexibility to stay at home with their children. Parents and families with urgent child care needs may call 1-888-600-1685 to find high-quality, safe child care for infants through children age 12.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) appreciates all the hard work and continued sacrifices that NC’s child care facilities have made during the COVID-19 outbreak to serve families, fuel the state’s economy, and protect the state and nation’s security.
With the closure of North Carolina’s public schools, DCDEE knows the demand on the state’s licensed child care facilities is elevated. In order to provide relief and flexibility to child care facilities serving families, DCDEE has been actively working to identify policy and regulatory requirements that can be temporarily waived, while still ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of children.
While DCDEE asks that facilities attempt to continue to maintain compliance with all child care rules to the extent possible, the ones included in the enclosed chart have been identified to provide flexibility to centers during this time of crisis. DCDEE will continue to evaluate and determine if there is a need to include additional regulatory flexibility as the situation progresses.
Additionally, during this time, all monitoring visits and environment rating scale assessments will not take place. This temporary change does not include investigations of complaints and investigations of child maltreatment. Other flexibilities include areas such as Staff/Child Ratios and Group Size, Training Requirements, Record Retention, Activity Areas, and Nutritional Standards. Be assured that a child care facility’s star rating will not be impacted if a facility temporarily utilizes these flexibilities. A NC Pre-K classroom that discontinues operation as an NC Pre-K classroom will need to operate according to the regular child care licensing standards identified in the attached chart.
Thank you for supporting North Carolina and its families by providing vital care and services.
|RULE TOPIC||EMERGENCY DESCRIPTION||REGULATION|
|Inspections of Child Care Facilities||The Division will not be conducting visits and inspections other than in response to a complaint or investigation of child maltreatment.||10A NCAC 09 .0201|
|On-Going Requirements for a License||The Division will not enforce required inspections under (a) and (b) to the extent such inspections cannot take place due to COVID-19.||10A NCAC 09 .0304(a) and (b)|
|Activity Schedules and Plans||Temporarily allow flexibility to child care facilities for the completion and posting of activity schedules and plans.||10A NCAC 09 .0508|
|Activity Areas||Allow flexibility in the requirements for activity areas and focus on providing age appropriate activities for children in care. Temporarily may allow up to 2 hours of screen time per day for children three years old and older.||10A NCAC 09 .0510|
|Staff Qualifications||If child care facilities are required to add new staff, the Medical Report and Tuberculin (TB) Test Requirements may be temporarily waived to allow staff to begin work, provided they are not symptomatic and all requirements can be completed within 60 days.||10A NCAC 09 .0701(a)|
|Staff Qualifications||Temporarily waiving the requirements to maintain certain information in an individual’s staff record.||10A NCAC 09 .0703(c), (d)|
|Staff/Child Ratio and Group Size||Temporary allowance for all child care facility programs, regardless of star-rating, to operate using the minimum allowable staff/child ratios and group sizes.
Temporarily allow increasing the maximum group size provided the staff/child ratios are maintained for the youngest child in the group, not to exceed two groupings of children. Must adhere to the CDC Guidance of not gathering more than 50 people in a single space.
|10A NCAC 09 .0713(a).|
|Nutritional Requirements||Temporarily waive the requirements to provide additional food to meet the USDA Meal Patterns for Child Care requirements when meals/snacks are brought from home.||10A NCAC 09 .0901|
|Staff Orientation||Temporarily waive/suspend the time frame for staff to complete orientation. Some staff may have just been hired and it may be a hardship for programs to get these orientation hours completed within the required time frames.||10A NCAC 09 1101(a)|
|Training Requirements||Provide an additional six months for administrators and any child care provider to complete CPR, FA and ITS-SIDS training. This change is allowed as long as one child care provider who has completed the CPR, FA training is present while children are in care, and as long as one child care provider in the infant room who has completed the ITS-SIDS training is present while infants are in care.||10A NCAC 09 .1102|
|Indoor/Outdoor Space||Temporary allowance for child care facilities to exceed current indoor and outdoor space capacity requirements.||10A NCAC 09 1401(a), (f)
10A NCAC 1402(b)
10A NCAC 09 .2504
|Family Child Care Home – Nutrition Standards||Temporarily waive compliance with Meal Pattern requirements if availability and access to food components is impacted due to COVID-19, including if a parent brings in their own food for meals and snacks.||10A NCAC 09 .1706|
|Family Child Care Home – Inspections||Temporarily waive requirement for announced or unannounced visits other than in response to a complaint or investigation of child maltreatment.||10A NCAC 09 .1709|
|Family Child Care Home – Daily Operations||Temporarily allow flexibly to child care facilities for the completion and posting of activity schedules and plans. Temporarily allow up to 2 hours of screen time per day, and unlimited usage time periods when working on school assignments.||10A NCAC 09 .1718(a)(6), (b)|
|Family Child Care Home – Records||Temporarily waive the requirement that the Child’s Health Assessment and Child Immunization Record be included in the Child’s Record within the first 30 days of enrollment. These records should be provided within 60 days.||10A NCAC 09 .1721(a)(1),(2)|
|Record Retention||Temporarily waive the requirement that the Child Medical Report and Child Immunization Record be included in the Child’s Record within the first 30 days of enrollment. These records should be provided within 60 days.||10A NCAC 09 .2318(6)|
|School-Age Children – Age Appropriate Activities||Continue focusing on providing age appropriate activities daily. Temporarily may allow up to 2 hours of screen time per day, and unlimited usage time periods when working on school assignments. Make rest areas available if a child wants to rest, but not required due to space and number of cots/mats available.||10A NCAC 09 .2508|
|Star Rating||The Division will not be conducting announced or unannounced visits to assess compliance for star-rating.||10A NCAC 09 .2830|
|NC Pre-K Attendance||Temporarily waive the requirement to contact parents for more than three consecutive absences when such absences are related to COVID-19.||10A NCAC 09 .3003|
|NC Pre-K Child Health Assessment||Temporarily extend the 30-day requirement for completion of the health assessment to 60 days.||10A NCAC 09 .3005|
Thank you for supporting our state and our families by providing vital care and services. DHHS and DCDEE understand that you are worried about the financial impact this event may have on your programs.
To address your concerns, we are making the following policy changes:
- Child Care Subsidy: For the month of March, all licensed child carecenters and family child care homeswill receive full subsidy payment for each child enrolled in their facility according to each child’s plan of care.
- NC Pre-K: Pre-K programs will be paid in full for the entire month of March, regardless of child attendance or closure.
We will assess payment policy options for future months as the need develops. We encourage you to check your email daily and read everything we send so you have the most up-to-date information and so we have the most accurate sense of child care availability across the state.
Please let DCDEE know if you have any questions.
- Information coming from the Governor’s office
- Email communication from DCDEE. Sign up for DCDEE alerts at bottom of this page.
- Updates on the DCDEE website.
Child Care Health Consultants are available to answer questions – find the consultant for your county here.