The RI Department of Human Services (DHS) emergency child care regulations specific to COVID-19 will expire on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, and will not be extended beyond that date. As we move towards a “new normal” while managing and mitigating COVID-19 risks, the Department remains committed to helping providers and families navigate challenges associated with COVID-19 and other communicable illness and disease disruptive to child care settings.
Below, please find an overview of new general pandemic language for center and family child care regulations first introduced in January 2022.
- In the event of a national state of emergency related to a pandemic, the Department may require child care centers and family child care to follow certain health and safety protocols based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or the RI Department of Health (RIDOH) including, but not limited to:
- Cloth face coverings may be required to be worn in accordance with CDC recommendations, RIDOH recommendations, and/or Rhode Island Executive Orders.
- Providers may be required to self-attest for common symptoms of the virus that caused the declared pandemic prior to entering the program. Individuals with symptoms may not be allowed to enter the program.
- Child care centers may be required to maintain stable groups while still in adherence to staff/child ratios and licensed capacity.
These updates allow DHS to adjust the implementation and monitoring of specific regulations based on national or State mandates. As of March 1, 2022, the protocols listed above will be considered recommended practice and are not requirements for all child care providers. This includes the requirement for mask wearing among staff. It is highly recommended that providers implement the above strategies in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, especially during times of high transmission. Please be advised that national or State mandates may override this decision, temporarily changing recommendations into requirements due to a declared state of emergency or Executive Order.
Beginning March 1, 2022, all child care providers are encouraged to make programmatic decisions based on the needs of your program. This could mean making informed decisions based on several indicators you deem important such as transmission rates in your area or local school district policies.
Providers are encouraged to also review and update illness policies to align with this “new normal” and work with families to clarify what is expected of them moving forward. RIDOH and DHS will notify you of any changes to the above guidance in a timely fashion.
Please note providers are still expected to reach out to RIDOH with any cases of communicable disease – especially cases of COVID-19. Per our regulations, in the event a child or staff member suffers from a communicable disease of public health significance, or in the event of an outbreak of any type, the facility must report the disease to RIDOH.
In the coming weeks, DHS will be coordinating with RIDOH to develop updated guidance related to testing and monitoring options within child care.
Per Executive Order, the public must still adhere to quarantine and isolation guidance. Effective Monday, Feb. 28, however, providers will no longer be required to submit close contact lists to the RIDOH COVID-19 Child Care team. The team will continue to provide guidance and support when a case and close contacts are identified.
Lastly, the Playbook has been updated. Serving as a valuable resource to providers and families, the Playbook will have the latest guidance from the CDC and RIDOH that will help keep children in care safely and support families in the workforce. You can find the most recent copy of the Playbook here.
Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication to Rhode Island’s families and children. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the DHS Child Care Licensing team (DHS.Childcarelicensing@dhs.ri.gov) or RIDOH COVID-19 Child Care team (RIDOH.Covidchildcare@health.ri.gov).
Child Care Administrator