To protect children in day care and the public, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission released new emergency rules Thursday.
The new rules:
1) require compliance with CDC requirements for child care programs;
2) require caregiver training related to COVID-19;
3) require screening of persons and children entering an operation and explicitly deny entry to persons or children who meet a screening criteria;
4) require a pick-up and drop-off plan for children;
5) require stricter standards when changing diapers and when clothes get contaminated;
6) adjust the HVAC system to allow fresh air in;
7) limit the use of cloth toys;
8) require the posting of handwashing posters;
9) limit the use of food preparation sinks;
10) not allow the serving of family-style meals; and
11) if a more restrictive rule or executive order comes from the governor of Texas or the U.S. president, it must be followed.
This announcement about the new safety rules followed “data showing an increase in COVID-19 transmission stemming from large gatherings and child care centers.”
Texas has 670 reported positive cases of COVID-19 — 457 are staff and 213 are children — at 491 child care operations as of Thursday, an HHSC spokesperson confirmed to Reform Austin.
During the past few weeks, the state had lifted some procedures for child care centers.
The new rules are an addition to the previously released guidelines from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control.
Employees 65 and older are encouraged to talk to their health care provider about whether they should stay home.
As of mid-June, state-licensed child care centers were no longer required to comply with safety precautions that had been in effect since mid-April, leaving operators to decide for themselves if they wanted to check staff temperatures, require parents to drop off their children outside or stop serving family-style meals.
Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the new rules on Tuesday. They weren’t implemented until Thursday.
Child care centers have been allowed to operate at normal occupancy limits since June 3.