Pandemic-Related Health and Safety Questions to Ask Childcare Providers


Over the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts have affected all of our day-to-day lives. Early in the pandemic, many of us experienced school and daycare closures in response to calls for social distancing measures. However, as public health officials and educators have learned more about the virus and gained experience with implementing health and safety protocols and procedures, many schools and childcare centers have successfully and safely opened their doors again. 

 Use these ten important questions to help guide your thinking and decision-making as you make a plan for your child. As you ask these questions and explore the answers make sure your school’s approach is in line with your family’s thinking. 

  1. How will the childcare center carry out wellness screenings for staff and students? Schools might provide families with a symptom checklist or require student temperature checks and hand-washing upon arrival. Whatever the new routine, take time to talk with your child and practice beforehand. 

  2. What are the mask-wearing requirements for staff and students? If your child will be wearing a mask, you might consider letting them pick out a favorite color or design and giving them opportunities to practice wearing it at home. 

  3. How will facilities, learning materials, and toys be regularly cleaned and disinfected? Children who have been in childcare settings before might notice changes to the rules regarding sharing manipulatives and supplies. Prepare them for these possible shifts by explaining why this is important in a developmentally-appropriate way. 

  4. Has staff participated in training about the necessary protocols and guidelines? It is important that there is a cohesive approach to health and safety and that all members of the school community understand the importance of these measures.

  5. What are the drop-off and pick-up procedures? Many centers have shifted these routines to limit the number of people in and out of the school buildings. It is important to know the routine and to prepare your child accordingly. 

  6. What will my child’s learning environment look like? Some schools have eliminated shared indoor spaces, having children stay in their classroom for the majority of the day. Depending on the size of the center and number of students in each class, outdoor spaces may require a scheduled rotation to limit the number of students playing together. Again, it is important to talk with your child beforehand so they know what to expect throughout their day. 

  7. What are the center’s protocols if a staff member or student becomes ill with Covid-like symptoms or tests positive for the illness? It is important to understand what circumstances might require your child to quarantine or be tested for the virus. These guidelines are often made in collaboration with local health officials. 

  8. In the event of a suspected or confirmed case within the school community, what information will you share with families and how will that information be communicated? Regular, open communication between schools and homes is essential in order to ensure everyone’s health, safety, and wellbeing. Be sure that you understand what health information schools will communicate and what details you are required or encouraged to share. Also, make sure that all of your contact information is fully up-to-date.

  9. What circumstances could impact the school or center’s decision to shutter their doors? Some childcare centers follow local school districts’ opening and closing decisions while others operate independent of these K-12 decisions. Understanding your school’s decision-making policies will help you plan and respond as circumstances change. 

  10. What does a typical day look like? Many centers have shifted their teaching and learning schedules to embed additional health and safety behaviors and routines throughout the day. Ask about what the overall experience will look and feel like for your child.