FAQ for Full-Day Centers

Federal guidance requires that masks must be worn by children 2 and older. We understand that this may cause parents/guardians to have questions. We have prepared this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to help answer common questions we’re receiving.

Change Language:

Frequently Asked Questions

As you know, our programs must follow ever-changing health and safety guidance. We were informed of updated federal guidance requiring children aged 2 and older to wear masks and asked to implement this change immediately. Unfortunately, we were not able to provide more advance notice to families. We understand this was unexpected for families, as it was to us, and apologize for any inconvenience.

All early care and education agencies that receive federal funding are mandated to follow the new mask requirement for children over the age of 2.

Wearing a mask is an expectation in the program and our staff is working with children and families to help everyone to understand the importance of wearing a mask. We communicate this expectation to children and families up front and provide reminders to children, as needed.

Wearing a mask is a health and safety expectation for children and adults in the program and our staff is working with children and families to help everyone to understand the importance of wearing a mask. We communicate this expectation to children and families up front and provide reminders and guidance to children, as needed.  Our teaching staff will be engaging in fun activities and songs to talk about the importance of wearing masks, as well as how to wear them properly. We understand that young children will take off their masks and need time to adjust to this new requirement. We will continue to support children with positive guidance strategies to encourage mask wearing.

Unfortunately, we are in the midst of both a workforce and childcare crisis, both of which are impacting our programs and programs across the state and nation. We simply don’t have enough staff or facility space to create smaller class sizes. This is something we hope to do at some point in the future but given the unpredictability of the pandemic and the labor market, it’s hard to say exactly when it will be possible.

We encourage families to send their child to care with a personal mask each day. We will do our best to have child-sized disposable masks available at each center every day.  If for some reason we experience an inventory shortage and your child does not have a mask, your child may not be allowed to be in program until we can secure a mask for them. We will do our best to have a stock of child-sized disposable masks available at each center.

  • We are following all state of Washington guidelines for observing physical distancing and cleaning protocols.
  • Unfortunately, while we are taking as many measures as possible to ensure health and safety, there simply are not any zero risk scenarios. This has been a challenging year as a result of COVID, but we have significantly reduced transmission rates by wearing masks, washing our hands, and maintaining physical distance.

Child care rooms are being cleaned regularly by custodial staff. We are also taking steps to avoid materials used during care that require frequent disinfecting.

Staff members are cleaning commonly used areas and spaces throughout the day.

A child with a disability who cannot wear a mask or cannot safely wear a mask for reasons related to the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.) and/or a child with documented special health care needs is exempt from masking. Any family of a child requesting exemption will be asked to provide a note from a physician or medical provider that says the child needs an alternative to a mask. Our program will document this accommodation using an exemption form and we will work directly with the family to determine a reasonable accommodation.

Please ask your Center Director and they will assist you.

Yes, children can contract COVID-19. While children are not at as high of risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19 as older adults, they are being hospitalized with COVID-19 illness, and it’s occurring at a rate higher than that of the seasonal flu.

A recent CDC report showed that adolescent COVID-19 hospitalization rates were 2.5 to 3 times higher than influenza hospitalizations among adolescents when compared to the three previous flu seasons. CDC data also show more children in the US died from COVID-19 (337 children) than influenza (187 children) in 2020-21.

“Several studies conducted early during the COVID-19 pandemic suggested that the incidence rate among children and adolescents was lower than among adults. However, the lower incidence rates may have been due in part to children, when compared to adults, having fewer opportunities for exposure (due to school, daycare, and activity closures) and a lower probability of being tested. Studies that have systematically tested children and adolescents, irrespective of symptoms, for acute SARS-CoV-2 infection (using antigen or RT-PCR assays) or prior infection (through antibody testing) have found their rates of infection can be comparable, and in some settings higher, than in adults.” CDC – Source

Yes! The Center’s for Disease Control (CDC)  and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend universal school masking. According to the AAP “Face masks can be safely worn by all children 2 years of age and older, including the vast majority of children with underlying health conditions, with rare exception. Children 2 years of age and older have demonstrated their ability to wear a face mask. In addition to protecting the child, the use of face masks significantly reduces the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections within schools and other community settings.”

No, wearing a face mask will not affect your child​’s lungs from developing normally. This is because oxygen flows through and around the mask, while blocking the spray of spit and respiratory droplets that may contain the virus. Preventing infections like COVID-19 is an important part of helping your child and your child’s lungs healthy.

For the vast majority of the general public, masks present no health risks. The prolonged use of masks may be uncomfortable, but it does not lead to CO2 intoxication or oxygen deficiency. Cloth masks and surgical masks do not provide an airtight fit across the face. The CO2 escapes into the air through the mask when you breathe out or talk. CO2 molecules are small enough to easily pass through mask material. In contrast, the respiratory droplets that carry the virus that causes COVID-19 are much larger than CO2, so they cannot pass as easily through a properly designed and properly worn mask.

Numerous studies have shown that masks are an effective tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/masking-science-sars-cov2.html) When a person who is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 (even if they don’t have symptoms) wears a face covering, it can prevent the spread of infection to others by blocking droplets from spreading when the person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can pass the virus to others before they have symptoms of COVID-19 or be infected but never show symptoms, which is why it’s important to wear a mask.

While this is a natural concern, there is no known evidence that use of face masks interferes with speech and language development or social communication. Plus, children can still get plenty of face time at home with mask-free family members. Read more information here.

Per the Governor’s mandate, all child care staff are required to be fully vaccinated or have a legal exemption on file by October 18th.

If a child or staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough or shortness of breath) while at child care, the health department recommends that the individual be immediately separated from others until the ill person can leave the facility. If symptoms persist or worsen, they should call their health care provider for further guidance. An employee or child’s parent or caregiver should inform our staff immediately if the person is diagnosed with COVID-19.

We follow all health department guidelines related to COVID exposures, quarantines and closures. Please refer to our current student flow chart that explains the process and protocol.

Ensuring the health and safety for staff, children and families is a priority. Therefore, taking additional precautions and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH) guidelines and recommendations is necessary. As programs remain open or re-open, it is crucial to minimize the risks of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). Programs will encourage parents and staff to be on the alert for signs of illness and ask for children and staff to remain at home when they are sick. This information is not meant as a substitute for consultation with your healthcare provider or local health department.

  1. Increase frequency of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of all Early Care and Education Child Care Programs
    • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a concentration of at least 60% alcohol
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
    • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing
    • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects (like doorknobs and light switches)
    • Follow Public health’s sanitizing and disinfecting recommendations for COVID-19
  2. All adults and students are required to wear a facial covering (mask and/or cloth) before entering the facility
  3. Staff who are facilitating daily health screenings will be provided with the appropriate PPE
  4. Upon entry of the program, all children will be required to pass a health screening which includes a temperature check.
    • Heath Screening questions are as follows:
      • Has your child been in contact with someone with a suspected case of COVID-19?
      • Has your child been in contact with someone that is confirmed to have COVID-19?
      • Is your child currently awaiting COVID-19 test results?
      • Does your child have any of the following symptoms today?
        • Cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever of 100.4°F or higher or a sense of having a fever, sore throat, chills, new loss of taste or smell, muscle or body aches, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, congestion/running nose – not related to seasonal allergies, unusual fatigue
      • If a parent refuses to have their child’s temperature taken, the child will not be able to stay in program for that day
    • If families answer “yes” to any of the health screening questions the child will be unable to attend program that day
  5. Modified pick-up and drop-off routines are in place to limit nonessential visitors. We are currently closing our centers to visitors to limit the potential exposure in centers.
    • Parents/guardians are encouraged to say goodbye to their child at the entry point of the building and staff can escort children to their classroom
    • Each site will have a clean batch of pens and a used pen container (used pens will be sanitized after each use)
  6. All meals and snacks will be pre-plated and served to children by staff members following sanitation practices

Staff, families, and others may voice their concerns formally through the Federal Register. Submit comments, identified by docket number 2021-25869 and/or RIN number 0970-AC90, by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Office of Head Start, Attention: Director of Policy and Planning, 330 C Street SW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20201.
Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium

Contact us for more information:

If you have a question that is not answered here, please email ece.enroll@esd112.org or call 360-952-3466.

Learn More about ECE Centers