Warner, Kaine: Child care providers need clear guidance on COVID-19

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U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar today urging the agency to issue clear guidance for child care providers to determine whether these centers should remain open amid the nationwide COVID-19 outbreak.

School closures across the country have increased demand for child care services, yet these providers are left to make their own decisions about whether and how to stay open due to the federal government’s lack of clear guidance.

“As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, we write on the topic of K-12 school closures and the lack of sufficient guidance for child care operations. We are concerned that there has not been an official guidance for child care operators to determine whether these centers should remain open, leaving administrators and parents without direction for how to best protect the safety of children and limit the spread of the virus,” the senators wrote in their letter to Secretary Azar.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered K-12 schools to close for a minimum of two weeks in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Similarly, states across the country have also ordered the closure of their schools to curb the spread of the virus.

With millions of children out of school, child care providers are implementing policies in disparate ways and, in many cases, struggling to heed the social distancing guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Earlier this week, Virginia ordered child care facilities to follow federal guidelines, which includes limiting total classroom size to ten individuals.

“This increased demand on child care centers contradicts guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which announced a federal guidance limiting gatherings of ten people or more. As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Anthony Fauci said during a White House briefing on Monday afternoon, ‘There is no social distancing in child care. It’s impossible.’ As you well know, guidelines on social-distancing that may be feasible in schools, work places, and public areas may not be feasible in child care centers,” continued the senators.

In their letter, the senators commended Virginia for providing clear guidance for child care centers and urged that the federal government follow that lead and provide guidance for child care centers nationwide in an effort to protect the health and safety of the children they serve and the staff who care for them.

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