State lifts COVID-19 safety precautions for child care centers

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has repealed emergency rules for child care centers that were put in place after coronavirus started spreading across the state. 

Up until June 12, child care centers were required to comply with a list of precautions included screening staff by checking temperatures, requiring parents to drop off and pick up outside only, and not serving family-style meals. 

The emailed notice now leaves it up to each provider to decide what precautions they want to continue with at their centers. 

Joyce Strain, owner of Hippo Learning Station in Hutto and Pathways Child Development Center in Round Rock, said they will continue to keep safety measures in place.

“I have so many little ones to protect. We are still keeping parents out,” explained Strain “Even our teachers are still being screened at this point at the door before we allow access, and everybody needs to go and wash their hands.”

Strain said that recently they had to close their Round Rock location for a few days after a staff member tested positive. She said crews have been disinfecting and they’re planning on re-opening by mid-week.

“Just doing the screening alone we can see a decrease in other illnesses at the center, just being cautious in checking temperatures before they can come in,” said Strain. “I think when you’re faced with being responsible for so many families I don’t know a center right now that is not following some sort of protocol.”

COVID-19 cases among staff and children at child care centers are on the rise. 

There are 436 reported positive cases of COVID-19 at 335 child care operations across Texas, according to Danielle Pestrikoff, a spokesperson with Texas Health and Human Services, 287 are among staff and 149 including children.

“Protecting the health, safety and well-being of people in HHSC-regulated facilities remains our top priority,” said Pestrikoff. 

According to reopening guidance to child care providers, minimum class sizes are still required, as well as social distancing and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. 

“Providers are required to follow state Minimum Standards to ensure the health and safety of children in care,” explained Pestrikoff. “HHSC has provided Reopening Guidance to Child Care Providers to assist operations as they navigate through this process and to ensure they have the information and guidance they need to operate safely and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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