Head Start sites planning to reopen
As children were winding down a school year that was anything but ordinary, Southern Seven Head Start is looking ahead to measures to safeguard children against COVID-19 in the classroom.
On June 12, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, IDCFS, released reopening guidance for day care centers, licensed day care homes, and group day care homes.
The guidance was from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, and the Illinois Department of Public Health, IDPH, and is to be implemented during Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, which went into effect on Friday, June 26.
Through teleconference and social distancing, the Southern Seven Head Start health services advisory committee met June 16.
The committee met to discuss the guidance and the safety plan for each of the 11 Southern Seven Head Start sites.
For children who live in the lower seven counties in Illinois, the Southern Seven Early Head Start program serves children ages 6 weeks to 3 years, while Traditional Head Start serves children ages 3 to 5.
Teachers and staff at Southern Seven Head Start plan to begin training by the end of June on best practices for each site.
Initial preparations, including additional disinfecting of play areas, creating nap time areas to accommodate social distancing of children and making sure families have all necessary information, are being conducted.
Since Early Head Start is a year-round program, plan implementation at those sites is set to begin July 6. Traditional Head Start sites will begin during the fall start.
Known routes of transmission of COVID-19 include respiratory droplets formed from coughs and sneezes, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands or touching an object or surface with the virus on it then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing hands, and, rarely, by fecal contamination.
Prevention of introduction of COVID-19 into Head Start sites will include, but is not limited to, modifications at building entry points, temperature and symptom checks of all who enter the building, hand-washing upon entering the building, sanitizing of surfaces and use of face coverings.
In cases of symptom development or known COVID-19 exposure, Southern Seven Head Start will follow recommendations and requirements from Southern Seven Health Department, IDPH or IDCFS regarding closure, disinfection and notification of families.
Upon reopening, families with children enrolled in Southern Seven Head Start will be informed of new policies, advised to support healthy hygiene practices and social distancing at home, and to plan for back-up child care in the event of closure or illness.
For more information about the reopening of Head Start, or to enroll a child in the program, call 618-634-2297.