Updated Opening Guidelines – June 8, 2020
Never before have so many FCC Providers been united in their concerns and calls for guidance from EEC. And perhaps never before has EEC responded so quickly and thoroughly to amend guidelines to meet the needs of Providers. You spoke, and they listened. This is a big day for FCC Providers!
We’re excited to share 3 significant sets of updates from EEC this morning. These updates address 8 of the top 11 high-priority questions from FCC Providers last week. This is a tremendous success, and we will continue to work with EEC to clarify open items. In addition, we received a clear timeline and process for the path to reopening (below).
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Top 10 Updates for FCCs
1. Trusting Providers: As Commissioner Sam says, We are relying on the expertise of the professionals in the field to redesign their approaches to early education and care, adjust their daily activities, and configure the layout of their spaces to encourage children to remain six feet apart while still enjoying their day.” Throughout the new EEC Guidelines you’ll see qualifying statements like “To the best of their ability” or “The FCC might try.”
2. Ratios: Licensed Providers in “good standing” will not have their license count or ratios change. This is a significant change for FCC Providers with licenses for 6+2 or 10. No need to have hard conversations with the parents that have come to depend on you and love your program! One caveat: if you have children of your own that are not yet 11 years old, they take a spot.
3. Square Footage: Again, Providers in “good standings” are allowed to continue operating with current capacity even if they cannot meet the 42-square-foot requirement as long as you can meet all the other requirements. The EEC will not be re-measuring your space. You are of course encouraged to get creative with arrangements to meet physical distancing guidelines.
4. Public Parks: Big update to Providers in Boston and other urban areas: public parks are allowed. You need parent permission to go to a park, but most Providers that regularly use a park have that included in their Enrollment Packet general permissions.
5. Part-Time Children: This is an important clarification – part-time children are allowed, just as they always were. No change from pre-COVID here.
6. Intake area: You don’t need to build a new mud-room. Do your best to stagger drop-off, use a back porch if that’s an option, and do your best within reason to keep parents dropping off separate from children in your home.
7. Temperature Checks: No longer required for check-in. Public health officials have said that these checks are not accurate at predicting COVID-19. Parents will still attest that the child hasn’t been sick or exposed, and you will still do a quick observation of the child before bringing them into your home.
8. Bathrooms: Quick, call the plumber and cancel that appointment! 😉 Providers with only one bathroom are OK. Just double down on cleaning!
9. Sensory Play: Break out the buckets! Many Providers were concerned about how to get kids outside playing with sand and water during the summer. Well, if you have a bucket for each child (and you can figure out how to keep them from immediately tipping them over 😉) you’re in business. No group sensory tables, but spread them out and have at it!
10. Finding PPE: The EEC is working on this, but is vague on details. EEC is working on a bridge solution to support providers through the reopening process. As NeighborSchools, we’re going to be publishing a list of the best places to find and buy PPE later this week.
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– No teeth-brushing for now. We want to keep far away from mouths in general.
– CPR is now good until the given 2-year expiration date. You are no longer required to renew on an annual basis.
– It is not mandatory for children over 2 to wear masks. It will be up to the parents and Provider to come up with the best decision for that child.
What we still don’t know
We’re working with EEC for further guidance on the following:
– What to do if a member of your household works in a medical facility that would potentially expose them to COVID.
– What counts as a soft-surface? Rugs? Mats? Blankets in a reading area?
Timeline to Reopening
After a couple weeks of confusion, today we got a timeline and a clear path to reopening! So, how is this going to work?
Today – June 8: Intent to Reopen Form
Starting today, you’ll see an “Intent to Reopen” form in LEAD. This form will ask you about your plans to reopen under the new guidelines. You will state whether or not you plan to reopen under the new measures. We recommend sending this in ASAP so your Licensor knows to expect a Proposal from you.
This Week: Preparing & Applying to Reopen
Later this week, the EEC will send out plan templates, guidance, and self-attestation forms. These are for you to review and begin planning. You will be able to submit your plans to your licensor once completed.
We’ll be reviewing these templates and answering your questions on our weekly Provider Zoom call this Thursday.
Next Week: June 15th – Conditional Approval
Next Monday, June 15, the EEC will begin reviewing your submissions. From what we can tell, it looks like they will give these the green light quickly in order for Providers to reopen right away. Based on these guidelines, Providers could conceivably be open next week, but we still don’t know what EEC means by “immediately review.” So it may be better to pick an upcoming Monday and give yourself and parents time to prepare for a return to child care.
You can create your own timeline for reopening. You can go as quickly or carefully as you’d like as you start to reopen your program. Some Providers want to open ASAP to accommodate the families in their community. Others might want to take some time making sure that they’re ready to take on the challenges that come with opening a daycare in the midst of a pandemic. Either way, the EEC will most likely not get in the way of your desired opening date.
Mid-June to August: Final Approval
After you’re granted conditional approval, the EEC will give you final approval within the next 60 days. Note that you do not need final approval to open. Final approval will consist of a more thorough review of plans and address any additional support needs that might arise during the reopening phase.
These requirements will be in place throughout the summer, so you should feel secure in planning without revisions or new obstacles coming your way for the next couple of months. However, as the beginning of the school year nears, keep your eyes peeled for updates that stem from children being able to return to school, and changes based on public health guidelines and Provider feedback.
These details are subject to change. We’ll post any updates to our Facebook page; join 300+ other FCC Providers and follow our page to make sure you don’t miss another post.