Child Care During COVID-19

Keeping children healthy and safe

How are child care programs and camps keeping children safe?

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) has created guidelines — based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) — to keep children in child care programs and camps safe during COVID-19. Child care programs are required to have a written policy about wearing masks, increase their cleaning, conduct health screenings, reduce group sizes, and make other changes.

Are children and staff screened every day?

Yes, it’s one of the “enhanced requirements” for licensed child care programs and camps during COVID-19. Every child and staff at child care programs get screened each day for symptoms, like fever, a new cough or breathing problems.

I have to travel to other states for work. Can I still send my child to child care or camp?

You need to talk to your child care program or camp directly before you travel. Ask if they have a written policy related to travel.

The current Travel Advisory requires people who have spent more than 24 hours in states with higher levels of COVID-19 to stay home (quarantine) for 14 days. Learn more about the policy and how it affects child care.

Wearing masks

Do my children have to wear masks during child care or camps?

A new policy requires that children 3 years and older need to wear masks while in child care programs, schools, and camps. It goes into effect on September 21, 2020. However, child care programs will have until October 19, 2020 to phase in this new rule.

Children under 3 years of age are not required to wear masks. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that children under age 2 shouldn’t wear masks. Make sure to review the written policy that your child’s program shares with you. OEC’s flyer also has more information:

Do kids have to wear masks all day?

No. For example, children will be able to take their masks off when they eat, nap, or are outside (as long as they are at least 6 feet from each other, whenever possible). Programs may also have other scheduled mask breaks, where kids can stay 6 feet away from other children wherever possible without their masks on.

But kids didn’t have to wear masks before — what changed?

Over time, with ongoing research, we’re learning more about ways to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. This requirement is based on updated guidance from Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics. This policy will help keep children in child care programs and camps healthy — which will also help child care programs and camps stay open.

What if my child isn’t used to wearing a mask?

Think of wearing a mask as a healthy habit you’re helping them learn, like washing their hands. Talk about why it’s important and practice at home. Work with your child’s program on this skill just like you do with other important skills. And don’t worry — your child will not be excluded if they are still learning to wear a mask safely and consistently. 

Will my child have time to adjust to this requirement?

Talk to your child’s program about possible phase-in options.

  • Child care programs have until October 19, 2020 to help children families, and staff adjust to these new routines. 
  • Children who just turned 3 and children who are new to a center may be allowed 2 months to get used to wearing a mask.

What if wearing a mask isn’t safe for my child? Will they be able to go to child care?

If your child has a medical condition, special health need, disability, or developmental need that makes wearing a mask unsafe, they may not be required to wear one. You just need to make sure the need for an exception is documented. Work with medical and/or special education professionals, and your child’s program to come up with a plan that works best to keep everyone safe.

For full details about exceptions to the mask requirement, you can read OEC Memo #29.

Do staff members at my child care have to wear masks?

Yes, staff at your child’s child care program or camp are generally required to wear masks or other face coverings. If they’re outside — and at least 6 feet away from children and staff — they can take them off.

When your child is sick

What should I do if my child has COVID-19 — or has been around someone who has it?

If your child tests positive for COVID-19, keep them home and follow their doctor’s advice. You also need to call your child care program or camp, so staff can take steps to protect other children and staff.

If your child is healthy but was around someone with COVID-19, CDC recommends that they stay home (quarantine) for 14 days.

My child isn’t feeling well, but I don’t think it’s COVID-19. What should I do?

Right now, it’s important to be extra cautious. So if your child seems sick, you need to keep them home. It’s the best way for all of us to keep each other safe.

How will you know when it’s okay to bring your child back to child care or camp? Check with your doctor, talk with your child’s program about their policies, and keep an eye on your child’s symptoms.

My child has a health issue — is child care safe for them?

The best advice is to talk to your child’s doctor. Together, you can make a decision about whether child care is okay for your child. Then, you can talk to staff at your child’s child care program or camp and get their support.

Finding child care

How can I find child care during COVID-19?

2-1-1 Child Care makes it easy to find spots in child care programs in your area. Dial 2-1-1 or 800-505-1000. You can also use the Child Care Finder on their website

2-1-1 Child Care keeps track of programs in Connecticut, so they’ll know about any open spots. While some programs had to close during COVID-19, many never did — and others have reopened since.

Do you work for a local Board of Education?

We know that finding child care may be especially important for your family as schools reopen. To help, the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) has collaborated with the United Way of Connecticut’s 2-1-1 Child Care to provide a dedicated support line for educators. Board of Education staff can call 860-756-0864 to get help finding child care.

United Way staff will help you identify and connect with a child care provider and refer you to an open program, if available. You can also ask staff to contact providers on your behalf to confirm vacancies and help secure a spot for your child. Please note that we are not paying for child care as part of this program.

If my child care has to close during COVID-19, will I still be charged for enrollment?

Child care programs usually have a policy about what happens if they need to close temporarily. Some may require that you keep paying if you want to hold your spot until they can reopen. Check your records or get in touch with your program to find out.

If you have any questions, ask your child care provider about their approach.Want more details on the rules child care programs are following COVID-19?

Have more questions?

Are you struggling to pay for food during the emergency? Need emotional support — or answers to questions about your child’s behavior? Check out supports for families during COVID-19.

Wondering how to talk to your child about COVID-19? Looking for ways to make sure your child is learning at home? Find out how to support your child’s development at home.

You can also get more details in our in-depth Frequently Asked Questions:
Child Care and COVID-19
Care 4 Kids and COVID-19
Birth to Three: Early Intervention Supports During COVID-19 Q&A
Birth to Three: Extending Supports During COVID-19 to Children Who Turn 3 Q&A
Home Visiting Town Hall Questions Summary

Last updated September 16, 2020