Child care providers will be allowed to reopen in Illinois as the state enters phase three of its reopening plan, likely at the end of the month, but changes are in store, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday.
Though some child care homes and centers have remained open during the pandemic to provide emergency care for children of essential workers, additional child care providers will be encouraged to reopen in phases three and four.
"To date, Illinois has not seen significant transmission of COVID-19 in child care
settings, which is encouraging evidence that child care can be provided safely," Pritzker said. "Public health experts emphasize, however, that there is much we still do not know about this new virus, how it spreads, and especially what effects it has on children."
Child care programs that have been open since the start of the statewide stay-at-home order will be allowed to operate under their non-emergency license, if they have one, and expand capacity as their region enters phase three, the governor announced.
Those that have been closed and will reopen in the next two phases must develop "a reopening plan that ensures they have revised operational and preparedness policies in place before opening." Such facilities will be required to operate at a reduced capacity for at least four weeks before they can expand capacity within the group size limits for each phase.
There will be mask requirements for staff in classrooms and for children over the age of two, unless they are medically unable to wear one, Pritzker said.
The announcement comes after Pritzker made multiple changes to the guidelines for phase three, allowing restaurants to reopen for outdoor seating and adding new guidelines for outdoor recreation.
Here's a look at the requirements for child care providers:
All licensed child care programs that reopen or continue operation in Phases 3 & 4 must:
- Follow all DCFS licensing rules, including new limits on group sizes (see below)
- Follow all CDC and IDPH guidelines for child care programs
For child care programs that were closed during Phases 1 and 2, before reopening, develop and submit to DCFS a Reopening Plan that includes preparations for:
- How to isolate children or staff who become sick
- How to ensure substitutes are available in the event staff members become sick
- What to do if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, including:
- Policy for reporting all positive cases to DCFS
- Plan for reporting incidences of exposure to staff and families while maintaining privacy
- Plan for a designated staff person to assist the local health department with contact tracing and
- monitoring of absenteeism among children and staff
- Plan for working with the local health department to determine the need for facility closure
- Guidance to support programs in the development of this plan will be issued soon
- Perform daily health checks for all children, caregivers, staff, and visitors including:
- Symptom checks – persons who display signs of illness must not enter the facility
- Temperature checks – persons with a fever of 100.40 or above must not be admitted
- Frequently sanitize all high-touch surfaces as recommended in CDC guidance
- Require face coverings:
- In hallways and when entering/exiting the facility for all persons over age 2
- In classrooms for children over age 2 to the extent practicable
- In classrooms for staff (masks or face shields)
- During outdoor play, face coverings for children and staff are optional
- Require physical examinations for children and staff as per licensing guidelines
- A 60-day grace period will be allowed for obtaining documentation of physicals (30 days for new staff)
Specific Requirements for Child Care Homes in Phases 3 & 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan
- Licensed-exempt homes must return to their pre-COVID-19 group size limits
- No more than 3 unrelated children will be permitted at one time
- Licensed homes may reopen at the start of Phase 3
- Before opening, programs must submit to DCFS a Reopening Plan that will include operational and preparedness components
- Capacity will be limited to the smaller of the program’s licensed capacity or 10 children
- Group day care homes must be able to keep children in separate groups of 10 or fewer children, up to their licensed capacity
- In order to reopen, all child care homes must:
- Maintain stable groups of children