Category: Environmental Health
Guidance and poster updated 5/11/2020 to align with current NC Interim Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Guidance for Child Care Settings – updated 5/6/2020, which expands on the situations in which adults and children should wear cloth face coverings.
Update – guidance further updated 2/5/2021.
- Updated guidance for cleaning and disinfection of soft (porous) surfaces
- Updated links to EPA-registered disinfectant list
- Added guidance for disinfection of electronics
- Updated core disinfection/cleaning guidance
Yesterday, North Carolina announced its first documented case of community spread, meaning the person infected did not have contact with someone who had tested positive or traveled to a highly impacted area. Confirmed community spread signals a need to further accelerate the next phase of the work.
North Carolina has already been taking actions as if community spread had occurred to get ahead of the virus. With the goal of flattening the curve, Governor Roy Cooper has taken aggressive actions by limiting large gatherings and closing restaurants and bars. The idea is to lessen the number of people who get sick at the same time and avoid overwhelming the state’s hospitals and health care system. As this next phase begins, North Carolina needs to continue to reduce the chances for further spread and exposure and protect our healthcare system, so it is there when needed.
North Carolina wants to reduce the chances that people will be exposed to the virus or expose others so other surveillance methods will begin to be deployed to understand the spread of the virus and drive the decision-making.
Protecting the state’s health care workforce and making sure they have the protective equipment they need is paramount. As licensed child care providers, the state needs you to be there for the children of the health care workforce, emergency responders, and others who are on the front line of this crisis.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) knows this a challenging time and wants to be supportive by providing the most current and up-to-date guidance. NC DHHS recommends that child care facilities:
- Cancel or reduce large events and gatherings, such as assemblies and field trips.
- Limit inter-school interactions.
- Consider dismissals if staff or absenteeism impacts the ability to remain open. Short-term closures may also be necessary to facilitate public health investigation and/or cleaning if a case is diagnosed in a child or staff member.
- Follow the guidance for child care settings.
Child care settings should also:
- Take precautions to protect children and staff from the spread of respiratory illnesses.
- Review absenteeism policies and procedures to make sure children and staff are not being encouraged to attend or work if they are sick.
- Establish a relationship with the local health department and communicate with them if there are any questions or concerns about COVID-19.
- Remind staff and the children’s guardians that an annual flu shot is an important way to support overall health. While the flu shot does not protect against COVID-19, it is the best defense against the flu, which is a common respiratory illness.
- Make sure to get reliable information. Be thoughtful about any information received on the virus and take steps to separate rumor from fact before forwarding information on to staff and children. All North Carolinians can better prepare for COVID-19 by getting up-to-date information directly from reliable sources like NC DHHS and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Finally, here are several resources to assist in the navigation of these challenging times.
- NC 2-1-1 by United Way of North Carolina is now available for people to call for assistance related to the COVID-19 coronavirus
- COVID-19 text information and updates are available. To sign up, text COVIDNC to 898211.
- The NC DHHS website publishes regular updates, including new guidance that is developed, information about Executive Orders, and other important information.
- The DCDEE website publishes regular updates, including new guidance specific to child care facilities, as well as provide parents and educators with COVID-19 virus guidance and home learning resources.
Thank you again for supporting North Carolina and its families by providing vital care and services.
- NC Department of Public Health
- Specific information for schools and child care facilities
- Centers for Disease Control
- Specific information for schools and child care facilities
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Contains information about talking with children about coronavirus
- More resources for talking to children are available from Zero to Three .
As always, the most important method of preventing the spread of infectious diseases, including the coronavirus, is handwashing. Download posters from our website or from the Department of Public Health’s resource list.
Many children get toys and toy jewelry as gifts during the holiday season. Some toys, especially imported toys, antique toys, and toy jewelry, may contain lead. Although lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell, exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health.
Young children tend to put their hands, toys, or other objects―which may be made of lead or contaminated with lead or lead dust―into their mouths. If you have a small child in your household, make sure the child does not have access to toys, jewelry, or other items that may contain lead.
Read more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There is no safe level of lead for children. Adverse health effects, including IQ deficits and learning and behavioral problems, occur at low levels of exposure to often invisible sources of lead.
The Lead-Safe Toolkit offers a variety of resources to help home-based providers reduce lead hazards in their child care homes. Toolkit contents include:
- Poster for display in family child care home.
- List of science-based, user-friendly lead prevention resources.
- Lead prevention policies and worksheets, with easy-to-follow steps for finding out if lead hazards exist in the home and what to do to reduce any exposures.
View full press release!
Also, Eco-Healthy Child Care® helps early childhood learning environments to be as healthy, safe and green as possible by reducing children’s exposure to toxic chemicals. Check out their factsheet on lead!
More than 230,000 babies and young children attend licensed child care centers in North Carolina. New rules adopted by the NC Commission for Public Health will ensure that all of those children are drinking water that is free from hazardous lead contamination.
This is a big win for young children in our state. One of the simplest things we can do to promote children’s healthy brain development is to make sure their drinking water is free from lead. Kudos to the NC Division of Public Health for their leadership on this important issue.
An Eco-Healthy Child Care® endorsed provider creates and maintains an early childhood learning environment that is healthy and safe by reducing children’s exposure to toxic chemicals. These changes immediately benefit the health and well-being of the children in care. Learn more about how to apply online to become an Eco-Healthy Child Care® endorsed provider.
Start creating a healthier early care and education (ECE) environment today!