We all know life looks very different during a pandemic and changes what our day-to-day routines are within a child care center/program. What were best practices before may be a bit different during a pandemic. IdahoSTARS encourages ALL child care providers to follow CDC guidance on how to reduce risk within your programs and prevent transmission. Prevent Strategies from the CDC: Promoting vaccination Consistent and correct mask use Physical distancing and cohorting Ventilation Handwashing and respiratory etiquette Staying home when sick and getting tested Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine Cleaning and disinfecting ENGAGING FAMILIES SAFELY DURING A PANDEMIC Prior to COVID-19, quality practice in your child care facility would have included inviting a parent into the child’s classroom at arrival time, allowing the teacher to greet both parent and child and supporting teacher/parent communication. However, during COVID-19 many child care facilities have transitioned to alternative drop-off and pick-up plans. During a pandemic, best practice for reducing the spread of the virus requires limiting physical contact, and the importance of this overrides the classroom arrival practice prior to the pandemic. Remember that communication with families does not have to be all face-to-face. Whether there is a pandemic going on or not, communication methods with families can include newsletters, Facebook groups, dry erase boards posted outside of the building, parent/teacher communication apps, and more! Hosting events or meetings with families can be held via video conferencing to limit contact. There are lots of great ways to be safe during a pandemic and continue including families in your program development! COVID-SAFE CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES, OUTINGS, AND ENVIRONMENTS Classrooms may not be doing field trips due to group size guidelines and physical distancing during the pandemic. Providers are encouraged to consider how to safely utilize community resources, remembering that it can be as easy as a walk to a nearby park. Creating a safe and clean environment in your facility may also look different. Increasing cleaning protocols, limiting the number of children playing at a station or with certain items, and removing toys that are unable to be sanitized or cleaned easily are all ways to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 (or other illnesses) being spread. Always consult CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting.