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 child wearing mask

Returning to Childcare during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Early Care & Education resumed services on September 28, 2020. We will continue to follow current guidance from:

  • County of San Diego Health and Human Services
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • UC Office of the President
  • California Department of Education
  • California Department of Social Services
  • Consultation with COEM/EOC/local medical experts
  • Community Care Licensing
  • Our knowledge as early education professionals


December 12, 2020 Notification of Possible COVID-19 Outbreak at the Early Childhood Education Center 

Limited Operations and Gradual Reopening

We know that:

  • Childcare is essential to the support and success of our working families.
  • Childcare facilities opened with the adaptations necessary to provide safety measures that address health, sanitization and spatial awareness in the second phase of Stage 2 per the State/UCOP Resiliency Plan.
  • Research shows that young children, particularly infants under age one, have a higher risk of significant illness (COVID-19 and Children)
  • Children can carry SARS virus in their respiratory track up to 22 days and in bowel movements up to 30 days (org).

Current Plan Status (subject to change)

We implemented a new, resilient operations plan to improve safety.

  • Classrooms are open with 15 children or less in each room.
  • Groups do not share spaces (e.g., bathrooms and outdoor play areas).
  • Service hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (eight-hour window to facilitate sanitization, etc.).
  • To practice physical distancing, we began by enrolling preschoolers, followed by gradual enrollment of younger age groups over time in accordance with applicable guidelines.
  • We began serving families in the order below who are:
    • Priority 1 – Currently enrolled families at ECEC
      • First responders/essential health workers
      • CCAMPIS grant recipients
      • Faculty conducting research on campus
      • Staff and faculty families working remotely
    • Priority 2 – UC San Diego families not currently enrolled
      • First responders/essential health workers
      • Faculty
    • Priority 3 – Families of university affiliates: Salk, Sanford Consortium, Venter and La Jolla Immunology (staggered)


Current Available Programs Monthly Tuition
Young Infants (3–12 months)


Infants (11 months and walking to 24 months)


Toddlers (2–3 years)


Preschoolers (3–5 years)


Minimizing Contact

  • To the best of our ability, we will maintain a minimum of six feet of physical distance between children and staff.
  • Parents, family members, visitors and specialty staff will not be allowed onsite or in classrooms.
  • Children and teachers will stay in their “stable,” mixed-age groups and will not comingle or switch between groups.
  • Staff members will be wearing facial coverings (shields/masks). They may wear other Personal Protective Equipment, as necessary, such as smocks and booties.

Child Drop-Off and Pickup

  • A staff member will greet parents and children at the classroom entrance. The sign-in process will take place via parent’s phone.
  • Guardians must wear face coverings during drop off and pick up.
  • Children over two years of age will be required to arrive at school with their face mask.

Staffing and Small Groups

Centers will maintain consistent groups of 15 children or less with the same staff members. We may adjust mixed-age groups to keep siblings together.

Staff-to-Child Ratio Recommendations:


Staff-to-Child Ratio

Group Size

0–15 months (young infants)



15-24 months (infants)



2–3 years (toddlers)



3–5 years (preschoolers)



Symptom Screening

  • Staff and children must pass a symptom screening before entering the center each day. Screening includes temperature check with no-touch thermometer and visual wellness evaluation.
  • Staff will be required to complete COVID-19 symptom screening prior to leaving home each morning. 
  • Parents will be required to complete a daily questionnaire concerning potential symptoms or COVID-19 contact outside of the center.
  • Children will not be admitted if they have taken fever-reducing medicines within the preceding 72 hours.
  • Staff will monitor children for symptoms throughout the day.
  • An emergency contact must be available within 30 minutes to pick up a child who presents any symptoms

Classroom Environment

  • Children may have personal cubby of classroom materials that only they will use to reduce sharing of materials.
  • Children will spend more time outdoors.
  • Windows will remain open as often as possible for optimum airflow.
  • Administration will provide ongoing support for the health and wellbeing of children and staff as they navigate changes (e.g., special spaces for retreat, materials, mindfulness activities and access to wellness resources).

Reconfiguring Spaces

Pre-COVID-19 (indoors: 35 square feet per child):

  • One teacher to ten children = one preschool classroom served between 24–32 children
  • One teacher to four infants/toddlers = one infant/toddler classroom served between 8–12 children

Post-COVID-19 (42–56 square feet per child):

  • One teacher to five children = one preschool classroom serving “stable” group of 12–13 children (including siblings) with consistent staff
  • One teacher to two children = one infant/toddler classroom serving “stable” group of 4-6 children with consistent staff

Note: We must have two to three teachers per classroom of 12–13 children to allow for breaks and to maintain hourly sanitization and physical distancing oversight.

Sanitization Procedures

We will expand our standard cleaning procedures by sanitizing specific surfaces more often.

  • Staff and children will wash their hands more frequently.
  • Staff will:
    • Disinfect shared toys, materials, bathrooms, tabletops, door handles and yard surfaces between uses
    • Launder soft, machine-washable items regularly.
  • Sanitizing stations above children’s reach will be available at all entry points and other designated locations.

Stay Home Guidelines

See the First 5 San Diego COVID-19 Symptom Decision Tree

Children may not enter the center if they, or anyone in their household, have these symptoms upon arrival or within the preceding 48 hours:

  • Fever of 100.0 or higher
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chills/Flu-like symptoms
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Loss of smell or taste

If any symptoms present while a child is at the center, staff will isolate the child until a parent or guardian arrives for pick up (within 30 minutes). Children must stay home until symptom and fever-free for 48 continuous hours.

A classroom may close for up to 14 days (per COEM/Public Health) while teachers, children and families self-isolate if there is known contact with and/or positive COVID-19 case. If tested positive for COVID-19, a child will need a medical note to return to the center.

All staff and children may be tested for COVID-19 before returning to care. Note: Teachers will be included in the “Return to Learn’ Program.”

Protocols for Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

If we suspect or confirm an active case of COVID-19 at one of our centers, we may need to implement a short-term closure. Our administration will:

  • Coordinate actions with COEM/local health officials
  • Dismiss children and classroom staff for:
    • 2-5 days for deep cleaning and disinfecting process
    • Up to 14 days for quarantine
  • Communicate procedures and timeline with families
  • Provide virtual learning, if appropriate

All short-term closure procedures are subject to change depending on conditions and recommendations of COEM/local health officials.

Food Program

Staff will:

  • Ask families to bring a packed lunch
  • Suspend family-style eating
  • Space children farther apart during meal times
  • Use as many disposable utensils and flatware as possible
  • Ensure proper hand washing before and after meals
  • Disinfect tables before and after meals
  • Temporarily suspend teeth brushing


Contact us, (858) 246-0900, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. weekdays.