Updated March 26, 2020 5:00 PM
- COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that has now spread globally.
- While anyone can be infected, most people experience mild symptoms and do not need to go to the hospital.
- Symptoms are fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
- People most at risk for severe disease are older adults and those with underlying conditions such as heart disease.
- Multiple cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Kansas
- Sedgwick County Health Department is closely monitoring this issue and is coordinating with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
- We anticipate more cases of COVID-19 in Sedgwick County in the coming days or weeks.
- Sedgwick County has issued a stay at home order until April 23, 2020
At this time, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has not mandated daycare to close.
This guidance is intended primarily for child care facilities licensed by KDHE (day care homes, group day care homes, centers, preschools, school age programs and drop in programs for school age children and youth). The purpose of the guidance is to educate licensees regarding preventing the spread of COVID-19 among children in care and staff and to provide direction to child care facilities, parents of children in care, and community partners to react quickly should a case be identified.
Sedgwick County’s Stay at Home Order and Childcare Facilities
Childcare facilities in Sedgwick County are still permitted through this order though the following mandatory conditions apply:
- Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 10 or fewer ("stable" means that the same 10 or fewer children are in the same group each day);
- Children shall not change from one group to another;
- If more than one group of children is cared for at the same facility, each group shall be in separate rooms and groups shall not mix with each other; and
- Children providers shall remain solely with one group of children;
Additional guidelines for essential services include the following when possible:
- Businesses are mandated to take proactive measures to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements where possible
What is Social Distancing?
Maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.
Planning and Preparedness Recommendations for Licensed Child Care Facilities
Child Care licensees should take the following steps to help stop or slow the spread of respiratory diseases, including COVID-19:
- Stay informed and know where to go for the most current information (see resources at bottom of document).
- Develop or update emergency preparedness plans to address possible disruptions in learning and program operations.
- Determine how to deal with high absentee rates among children and staff.
- Identify critical functions and positions and plan for alternative coverage in the event of staff absences or closure.
- Identify methods to communicate with staff and parents in the event of closure.
- Review your policies for the exclusion of sick children and staff.
- Make sure that parents of children in care and staff are aware and follow the policies.
- Encourage parents to plan now in the event their child becomes sick. Sick children should not be taken to another child care program or other group setting, even temporarily.
- Develop flexible sick leave policies that encourage staff to stay home when sick or when caring for sick family members.
- Review children’s files and update contact information.
- Make plans for the isolation and supervision of sick children until parents can pick them up.
- Implement monitoring systems to track children and staff absences.
- Understand the usual absenteeism patterns for your facility.
- Alert your local health department about large increases in absenteeism due to respiratory illnesses.
- Follow existing procedures for reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses among children and staff, including frequent hand washing.
- Avoid over-crowded conditions. Encourage children to spread out during story and circle times.
- Allow more than the two foot minimum required by child care regulations between cribs, cots, and sleep mats. Place cribs, cots, and sleep mats so that children rest “head to toe” rather than “face to face”.
- Get plenty of fresh air. Children should have an opportunity for daily outdoor play, weather permitting. Indoor rooms should be well ventilated.
- Perform routine environmental cleaning.
- Clean toys, shared items, and touched surfaces like handrails and doorknobs at least once daily and when visibly soiled.
- Set aside toys children have placed in their mouths or otherwise contaminated with bodily fluids, until they have been cleaned and sanitized.
- Use EPA-approved disinfectant when appropriate
- Stock sinks and restrooms with soap and paper towels.
- Place boxes of facial tissues and waste containers for used tissues throughout the child care area and in places readily accessible to children and staff.
Determine if, when, and for how long child care facilities may need to be closed.
- Licensees should work in close collaboration and coordination with the Sedgwick County Health Department and the City of Wichita to make closure decisions. Facility closures may be recommended for 14 days or longer. The nature of these actions (geographic scope, facility type, and duration) may change as a local outbreak situation evolves.
- The Sedgwick County Health Department may recommend temporary closure if a child in care or staff member were present in the facility prior to being confirmed as a COVID-19 case. The recommendations for the duration of a facility closure will be made case-by-case, based on the most up-to-date information about COVID-19.
- Facilities located in a residence should temporarily close if the licensee or someone else living in the residence becomes ill. Licensees should work with the Sedgwick County Health Department to communicate about a possible COVID-19 exposure. Communications to parents of children in care and to staff members should align with the facility’s emergency preparedness plan. When communicating information it is critical to maintain the confidentiality of any child or staff member.
- If a child in care or staff member has been confirmed as a COVID-19 case, the licensee should seek guidance to determine when the child or staff member may return to the facility and what steps may be needed. Follow the instructions of local public health officials to determine when children and staff who are well but are sharing a home with someone with a case of COVID-19, should return to the facility.
- When child care facilities are temporarily closed, children and staff should stay home; away from gatherings, crowds or other social settings.
- Identify strategies to support families in continuing their child’s learning in the event of facility closure.
- Understand that the length (duration), criteria, and public health objective of child care facility closures may be re-assessed and changed as a local outbreak situation evolves. Licensees should follow the advice of KDHE and the Sedgwick County Health Department
FAQ’s for Daycares
When might I need to close?
The Sedgwick County Health Department, may direct you to close in response to an increase in the spread of COVID-19. For additional information, refer to the Interim Guidance for Child Care Facilities Licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on the KDHE COVID-19 Resource Center.
If I am temporarily closing my licensed facility, do I need to notify anyone?
Yes, please provide this update to your local licensing surveyor. Be sure to notify your local licensing surveyor when you reopen.
If I am temporarily closing and my license is expiring, do I need to submit my renewal application?
Yes. A renewal application is still required to be submitted on time. KDHE will continue to process renewal applications and issue licenses.
Our facility is located in a school that is closed. Can we continue to operate?
If a facility is located in a school building that is currently closed, you will need approval from the school district and the Sedgwick County Health Department in order to continue operating at that location. Programs are only authorized to operate at the location printed on the license.
Can a facility licensed to operate in a school building be granted an exception to operate in a new, temporary location?
There are no waivers or exceptions to processes or regulations in place related to COVID-19 response. This includes issuing temporary licenses for an existing facility to operate in an alternate location.
Do I need to have new employees complete the fingerprint background checks before coming to work? What if there is not a location to get the fingerprinting completed?
At this time there is no exception to the background requirements. We await guidance from Federal partners. It is important that you watch for additional guidance pertaining to background checks on the KDHE child care licensing website.
May I continue to enroll new children as long as I don’t exceed my license capacity?
New enrollment is permitted. However, it is critical that health screening happens prior to entry and ongoing for all new and existing children. See more information about risk and recommendations for quarantine and isolation on the KDHE COVID19 Resource Center.
Can I get an exception to exceed my license capacity?
KDHE will not be granting exceptions to exceed license capacity or eliminate other health and safety requirements related to COVID-19 response.
Can school age children currently enrolled in my home-based child care facility attending before and after school and on breaks stay in care for full days until the crisis has ended?
Yes. K.A.R. 28-4-114(j)(2)(A) allows two additional children 5 to 11 years of age to be present during emergency school closures.
What if a parent is looking for child care and I do not have any spots?
Refer parents to the Child Care Aware website or toll free number 877.678.2548 for assistance searching for child care in their area. KDHE has an online information system that serves as a tool to support families in making informed child care choices and can be used to review compliance history of a current or potential child care provider. The online tool is an important step to verifying that a facility is licensed and provides compliance history for parents and guardians.
- How do I contact my local child care licensing surveyor?
For more information about local licensing contacts, visit the KDHE Child Care Licensing website and click on Local County Contacts.
I am not currently licensed. Can I get an emergency or temporary license?
There are no waivers or exceptions to processes or regulations in place related to COVID-19 response. This includes issuing a temporary license. For more information about applying to become licensed, contact your local licensing surveyor to start the process. See link above to access the local county contacts. Note: a license is not required for 1) children receiving care in their own home; or 2) children cared for by relatives. Additionally, anyone (friend, neighbor, teacher not working) can care for up to 2 children less than 20 hours a week.