Endless activities for little hands
Go to content
Coronavirus (COVID-19)
This document offers updated guidance for operation of early care and education (ECE) sites in a way that will help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. It reflects an effort to balance increased need for child care as more and more parents return to work outside the home with the critical need to avoid transmission of the virus to children, their families and ECE staff. The document starts with general information about COVID-19, and then moves on to guidance for ECE providers. Note that references to “centers” or ”sites” throughout the document apply to all child care providers, including family child care home providers. A. General Information about COVID-19 COVID-19 is caused by a virus that has never been seen in humans before. In some ways it is like other viruses we have seen, but there are important factors that set it apart: • Since it has never infected humans before, none of us are immune to it; • It can be spread from person to person more easily than some other viruses: any close contact brings risk; • It can be spread by someone who doesn’t have any symptoms and has no idea they are ill; • While it causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, it can be very serious, even fatal, for people in high risk groups. These include elderly people, people with chronic conditions, including those that affect heart, lungs or kidneys, people who have weakened immune systems due to disease, people undergoing chemotherapy or other medical treatments or conditions, and people who are pregnant. Symptoms of COVID-19 People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may include: • Fever • Cough • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing • Fatigue • Chills • Congestion or Runny Nose • Muscle or body aches • Headache • Sore throat • Nausea or Vomiting • Diarrhea • New loss of taste or smell
How COVID-19 spreads The virus is spread mainly by close contact from person to person. A “close contact” is any of the following people who were exposed to an “*infected person” while they were infectious: • An individual who was within 6 feet of the infected person for more than 15 minutes • An individual who had unprotected contact with the infected person’s body fluids and/or secretions, for example, being coughed or sneezed on, sharing utensils/saliva, or providing care for the infected person without wearing appropriate protective equipment. * An infected person for purposes of this guidance is anyone who has confirmed COVID-19 or who is suspected to have COVID-19 based on symptoms. These individuals are considered to be infectious from 2 days before their symptoms first appeared until they are no longer required to be isolated (as described in Home Isolation Instructions for People with COVID-19). A person with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms (asymptomatic) is considered to be infectious from 2 days before their test until 10 days after their test. This means that an early educator who had a long conversation with a colleague on a Friday and then found out that the colleague showed symptoms on Sunday, is considered to have been exposed to the virus. Further information that may be of interest can be found on the Mobile County Health Department website. Go to to review guidance for parents of young children caring for children with COVID-19, guidelines for safe cleaning and disinfection, and other resources that may be of use. You may also find further information on best practices in early care and education settings at B. Creating a Safe Environment for Children and Caregivers To avoid preventable spread, ECE sites must comply with these requirements: 1. Classroom configuration • Childcare activities, indoor and out, must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer (“stable” means the same 12 or fewer children are in the same group each day). When possible, grouping children who live in the same household (i.e. siblings) is recommended; if a child must leave the facility and quarantine/test due to exposure, siblings/other children at the facility from the same household will also need to leave the facility to quarantine/test. • Children do not move from one group to another. • If more than one group of children is cared for at a facility, each group stays in a separate room. Groups do not mix with each other in classrooms, outdoor space or any common space within the facility. • The same early educator(s) remain(s) solely with one group of children. • If a facility includes any large classrooms, these rooms can be separated into smaller areas, each serving up to 12 children. The following precautions must be taken if rooms are divided:
Back to content