School Closed Social Story
NHSA’s Kitchen Table Talks
If you weren’t able to view this week’s conversation or if you’d like to share it with other members of your team, you can watch the recording here. For any additional or missed questions or comments you may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find both the slides and the handouts on the Block in the Health and Wellness library here.
Next Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 2:00 Eastern Time, NHSA will be hosting a webinar with FRAC and USDA on CACFP during COVID 19. On this webinar USDA will explain the new waivers allowing CACFP sites to make adjustments to normal operating rules. The waivers offer options to: suspend normal meal-times, offer “grab and go” take home meals or delivered meals instead of on-site meal service (non-congregate feeding), and drop the activity requirement for at-risk afterschool programs. Register here.
Noggin is offering Head Start/Early Head Start programs and parents a free 90 day subscription.
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Noggin has an ever-expanding library of short-form videos developed by curriculum specialists.
Temporarily Repurposing Head Start and Early Head Start Centers
Partnering to Support Emergency Child Care During the COVID-19 Crisis
The Office of Head Start (OHS) has received many inquiries about temporarily repurposing Head Start and Early Head Start centers closed due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to provide child care primarily for children of medical staff and others engaged in responding to the COVID-19 emergency. Local Head Start programs have also been asked to offer staff to care for these children.
First, we want to acknowledge that Head Start programs have always been strong community partners, particularly when disaster strikes. One example, among many, is the critical role that programs played in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. COVID-19 challenges and threatens each individual and community in ways we have never experienced. Because of the unique nature of this threat, activities in which Head Start has willingly engaged may not always be applicable to this growing pandemic.
We expect Head Start programs, even during program closures, to continue to support enrolled children and families in creative and innovative ways. Services during closures include ensuring that enrolled children continue to receive nutritious meals, and that child development and learning experiences and family engagement continue, to the extent possible. We have already heard amazing examples of how programs are continuing to support their children and families in creative ways.
That said, we know many programs are being asked to do more—well beyond their Head Start responsibilities. To support them in their decision-making about taking on responsibilities beyond their Head Start population, we have developed a set of frequently asked questions, which address some regulatory issues, health and safety concerns, and matters of capacity and liability.
Q1: Can Head Start funds be used to support non-Head Start activities during a disaster or pandemic?
A1: No, OHS does not have regulatory or statutory flexibility to approve the use of Head Start funds for non-Head Start services. By law, Head Start funds can only be used to provide Head Start services to eligible children and families.
Q2: If the local Head Start program is closed, can the Head Start program use its facilities and staff to provide emergency child care for first responders' children?
A2: Head Start staff employed by grantees with closed centers should continue to be paid by Head Start. This continued employment is critical to programs' continuity of operations and ability to reopen for children as soon as it is safe to do so. To the extent possible, staff are expected to be engaged in supporting ongoing services to enrolled Head Start children and families. Just as schools are continuing to pay staff and do distance learning, and businesses are continuing with telework, Head Start programs are operating through similar accommodations. We acknowledge that engagement will vary from staff to staff and program to program; however, OHS has directed grantees to continue to pay staff and cover their benefits while programs are closed.
If a grantee offers or directs Head Start staff to support emergency child care operations in its own facilities, Head Start dollars cannot be used for salaries or any other costs associated with the child care operation. Head Start staff may receive wages for hours worked in another child care program, but only if the work they do is outside of the time they are expected to be available to support ongoing services to Head Start children and families. For example, a Head Start teacher working a late afternoon or night shift in an emergency child care setting would be working outside of the normal time for Head Start services and, thus, would be able to pay from the child care organization for that time.
Q3: If the local Head Start facilities are closed, can facilities be leased to another entity with their own emergency child care providers to care for first responders' children?
A3: Yes, Head Start facilities could be used for childcare in the circumstance described in the question. However, no Head Start funds could be used in these arrangements. If a grantee temporarily leases Head Start space to another entity to offer child care to first responders, there are legal, fiscal, and logistical implications.
Head Start grantees must consider these issues carefully when making these decisions:
Legal implications: Head Start programs must ensure lease or use agreements with other child care providers using their buildings expressly allow for quick resumption of Head Start services when it is safe for Head Start staff and children to return to the facilities. Ensuring replacement of materials, and reimbursement of costs associated with damaged equipment should also be covered in the lease or use agreement. Grantees should not have to bear the burden of legal costs related to leases.
Fiscal implications: Since no Head Start funds can be used for non-Head Start services, Head Start programs must ensure that costs for rent, utilities, supplies, and any other costs of operating the temporary childcare program are covered by the lease or use agreement.
Practical implications: The Head Start facility may not have age-appropriate settings for the children who need care. For example, Head Start centers for preschool-aged children may not be age appropriate for infants, and they may not be age appropriate for older school-aged children. Early Head Start classrooms may not be appropriate for children other than infants and toddlers. Those considering these decisions may wish to take these factors into account.
It is also important that safety and infection control issues be considered. We refer those considering such arrangements to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on child care facilities (forthcoming/currently in review).
Licensing implications: Many Head Start facilities are license-exempt. The licensing entity would need to determine whether a temporary child care program would need to be licensed. If so, the Head Start program should ensure that it would not lose its license-exempt status for the facility once Head Start resumes.
In some states, Head Start facilities are tax-exempt because the organizations operated as non-profits and services are free to participants. If a temporary child care provider operates as a for-profit entity, it must be clear that the tax-exempt status is not jeopardized.
Q4: What are some of the health and safety concerns related to this request?
A4: While Head Start programs have provided support to communities through many natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, this situation is much different. Programs are not reacting in the aftermath of a disaster, but are trying to reduce the spread of a virus by limiting contact among people. That is the basis for schools and other community closures. We must all bear this distinction in mind as we work together to meet critical ongoing needs. We must also recognize that first responders, medical professionals and support staff, and certain other workers are vital to response, and many do need child care. Balancing these priorities is a critical challenge.
Finally, while grantees may choose to lease their space, they may also assume some oversight of the operation. If the grantee is engaged in any way in the oversight of operation, they are obligated to report to the local authorities any incidents of maltreatment, lack of supervision, or child abuse.
Dr. Deborah Bergeron
Office of Head Start
Office of Early Childhood Development
Hear from Office of Head Start leadership as they discuss the impacts of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on grantee operations. They offer clarifying information and respond to questions from the Head Start community on recently published (at the time of the webinar) COVID-19 prevention and response information.
Dr. Bergeron and Dr. Marco Beltran, health lead at the Office of Head Start, discuss strategies for managing infectious disease. Head Start programs can follow guidance issued by local authorities and use federal guidance to support their decision-making. Dr. B shares a love note for Head Start staff and points out useful existing resources and advice for programs.
Measures to prevent COVID-19 in your community, including at home, in childcare settings and schools, homeless centers, at work and in faith-based settings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html
Information for higher-risk and special populations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/index.html
Information specifically related to domestic and international travel: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
General Frequently Ask Questions, including how it spreads, symptoms, and what to do if you are sick: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019: Guidance for School and Childcare (Center for Disease Control)
Coronavirus Prevention and Response
The Office of Head Start (OHS) recognizes that grantees are concerned about the impact Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) may have on their programs. Head Start and Early Head Start programs should take steps to prevent the introduction and spread of coronavirus among their staff, children, and families. Through collaboration and coordination with local health departments, programs can take steps to disseminate information about the disease and its potential transmission.
COVID-19 is an emerging global disease. There is more to learn about its transmission, severity, and other features, as well as what may happen in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up-to-date information about prevention, symptoms, testing, and the current situation. They also offer interim guidance to help administrators of public and private child care programs and K–12 schools prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff.
In response to COVID-19, OHS is advising grantees to coordinate with local health authorities and implement their existing policies and procedures related to closure of Head Start and Early Head Start centers during infectious disease outbreaks. Closure of centers in areas heavily impacted by COVID-19 is an important element of containing and limiting its spread.
Many Head Start and Early Head Start programs are following the lead of school systems and local health authorities and closing centers.
If program operations are impacted by the coronavirus, please reach out to your Regional Office to inform them of any programmatic changes.
Wages and Benefits
In recognition of the unique circumstances associated with COVID-19, OHS is directing programs to continue to pay wages and provide benefits for staff unable to report to work during center closures necessary to address COVID-19.
This additional emergency response flexibility is important to ensure critical grants management activities can continue during closures. It will help ensure staff are ready and able to return to work as soon as it is possible to resume operations. This flexibility remains in effect through April 30, 2020 unless further extended by OHS.
During center closures, employees should continue to engage families and to deliver services to the extent possible, remotely.
The guidance from ACF-HS-IM-19-01 General Disaster Recovery Flexibilities can be applied to programs impacted by COVID-19. While we often think of disasters as natural events such as hurricanes and earthquakes, health emergencies can also form the basis of a disaster declaration.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Flexibilities
Caring and creative programs understand their communities best and are looking for ways to support them.
Head Start and Early Head Start programs may provide meals and snacks to children during center closures. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has waived its group setting meal requirement for closed schools and authorized special flexibilities for many states. These waivers include the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Grantees may work with their state CACFP agency to determine whether similar flexibilities that can support the ongoing availability of meals and snacks for enrolled children are available during Head Start and Early Head Start program closures. In the event of an extended center closure, perishable food should be safely disposed of in a way that minimizes waste, such as donation to a local food bank or distribution to enrolled families.
CACFP, funded through USDA, covers most of the cost of meals and snacks for enrolled Head Start and Early Head Start children. A program must use funds from the USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services child nutrition programs as the primary source of payment for meal services. Head Start and Early Head Start funds may be used to cover those allowable costs not covered by the USDA.
OHS reminds programs in affected areas to follow local guidance from health departments and other authorities, including not working when sick, social distancing, and group size limitations. Possible strategies for providing food to children during center closures include the following:
Programs could assemble bags of food, including formula for enrolled infants, and deliver them to homes in agency school buses or other agency vehicles. Families could come out to collect the bags or they could be delivered to the door.
Food could be assembled and families could pick it up at a center or other location. Care should be taken to avoid large groups and prevent anyone who is sick from coming to collect food. This could include a "drive-through" station in areas where families have cars.
Programs could check with local schools, churches, or other community organizations to see if there are partnership opportunities to increase the efficiency of food distribution.
How Coronavirus-2019 Spreads
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person:
When they are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
These droplets may be inhaled or can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby
By touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes
This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads
People are thought to be most contagious when they are sickest. Some spread may be possible before people show symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. The following everyday actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Stay home when you are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces using cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting solutions
Follow manufacturer label directions to determine strength, purpose, and stay time
For more information, see:
Caring for Our Children (CFOC) 18.104.22.168. Routine Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after cleaning, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered surface disinfectant products on the Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 list have qualified under EPA's emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product.
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including coronavirus.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC also has specific guidance for travelers.
Programs can work with local health departments and other emergency responders to prepare for a pandemic outbreak. Consider using resources such as:
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the coronavirus at this time. People who think they may have been exposed to coronavirus should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
Positive Parenting and COVID-19: 10 Tips to Help Keep the Calm at Home (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Food and Nutrition Services Program Guidance on Human Pandemic Response (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver
FNS has provided nationwide approval for states to locally waive specific meal pattern requirements as needed to support access to nutritious meals when certain foods are not available due to the novel coronavirus. Guidance for States on the Meal Pattern Waiver
Nationwide Parent/Guardian Meal Pickup Waiver
FNS is allowing states approved for non-congregate feeding to waive the rule preventing parents and guardians from picking up meals for their children, as long as they protect accountability and integrity. Guidance for States on the Meal Pickup Waiver
Nationwide Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Data Waiver
FNS is extending CEP election, notification and reporting and deadlines for School Year 2020-21. Guidance for States on the CEP Waiver
CACFP During COVID-19 Webinar
On this live webinar USDA will explain the new waivers allowing CACFP sites to make adjustments to normal operating rules. The waivers offer options to:
modify the meal pattern when food supplies are disrupted,
simplify food procurement,
offer “grab and go” take home meals or delivered meals instead of on-site meal service (non-congregate feeding),
allow parents to pick up meals, and
drop the activity requirement for at-risk afterschool programs.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
2:00 pm Eastern | 1:00 pm central | 12:00 pm Mountain | 11:00 am Pacific
Teachstone Virtual CLASS Trainings
While COVID-19 has brought restrictions on travel and group gatherings, we are committed to supporting you in improving interactions, regardless of the circumstance. We've created resources to help educators and we're also excited to share that CLASS trainings are now available virtually.
These new live, facilitated online training options let you continue your CLASS work at a distance - whether you're new to CLASS or improving your skills.
Virtual CLASS trainings offer the same great CLASS content and certification preparation as our in-person trainings. Virtual trainings are:
Experienced CLASS trainers use breakout rooms for small group discussions, a monitored chat box, and group polling to ensure high levels of interaction.
Receive the same CLASS content you would from an in-person training but at a discounted price and with no travel costs.
Access virtual trainings from the comfort of your home or workplace using a computer or tablet.
myTeachstone Learning Resources
We've put together courses with learning resources from our myTeachstone CLASS professional development platform to support educators in a variety of roles. These resources are available for you to use and share with others, free of charge.
• Teachers - See exemplar videos of real classroom footage featuring high-quality interactions from each CLASS domain.
• Coaches - Find tools to support distance coaching and digital learning. Feel free to share access to these resources with teachers.
• Parents - Watch exceptional classroom interactions and reflect on how you might try out some of what you're seeing at home.
To Access the Content:
Follow the link below, click the Activate a Product Key button, and enter: 5LMQ6ZQV23FNM56S
You will then need to create a username and password to access the courses. If you already have a myTeachstone account, simply login to your dashboard, click Activate a Product Key and enter the code above. Enjoy!
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