|Air Quality and Outdoors
Staffing, Students and Volunteers at the Centers
COVID-19 Surveillance Testing | Mask Wearing
Cleaning at the Centers
Air Quality and Outdoors
Yes. The children are given outdoor play time at least twice each day, weather permitting.
Classroom teachers take activities outdoors when staffing levels and weather permit.
Children are eating lunches and snacks outdoors as weather and staffing levels allow. The NYS Office of Child & Family Services mandates teacher-to-child staffing ratios. These ratios must be always maintained, including when eating or playing outside. When a class of children is outside, we must have appropriate staffing to account for bathroom trips into the building, falls and scrapes that must be attended to, and other situations that may arise. In addition, additional staffing is often needed while having lunches and snacks outside to encourage the children to eat rather than play.
Can tents be used to increase the conditions in which the children can eat outdoors, i.e. to eat even when there is light rain?
As advised by University experts, tents with sides that allow for protection from weather provide less air circulation than being inside. In the past, tents without sides have been used at the Centers, but proved to be challenging with the winds on south campus, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
The University closely monitored CDC and other public health guidance to prepare campus buildings for operation during the COVID-19 health crisis. Building ventilation systems were reviewed to both perform preventative maintenance, and to verify that systems were operating properly. Consistent with the most current guidance, the Child Care Centers are both equipped with MERV 13 filtration systems, and we are operating the HVAC system 2 hours before and after the facilities are open to further ventilate the buildings.
Because we are able to exceed the industry recommended ventilation rates and filter specifications, we have been advised by University HVAC experts that HEPA units are not needed. In addition, there are NYS licensing, safety, and regulatory complications with introducing plug-in HEPA units to a classroom.
Staffing, Students and Volunteers at the Centers
The Child Care Centers employ a limited number of Syracuse University students in work-study and non-work study positions. Some of our student employees are studying Human Development & Family Science as well as Inclusive Early Childhood Special Education.
Student employees are necessary to supplement our staffing to provide high-quality programming and to help maintain teacher-to-children ratios. The University has mandated COVID 19 vaccines for faculty, staff and students. In addition, all students working at the Child Care Centers are required to test weekly.
As part of supporting the University’s academic mission, the Child Care Centers have always collaborated with Syracuse University students from appropriate fields of study on practicums that contribute to their professional training and education. These collaborations are beneficial to the children in the Centers as well and are conducted using all the safety protocols recommended for staff. Supporting the academic mission by providing these meaningful experiences for our students is one of the reasons the University operates and subsidizes the Child Care Centers.
We are not allowing any volunteers during the Covid pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the Centers occasionally had parents visit a classroom as a guest to share a special talent or child-centered activity with the children, such as photography, ceramics, and gardening. A regular volunteer program, under NYS law, would require all volunteers to have the same security clearances as staff members in the Child Care Centers. This includes fingerprinting and checks against the NYS Office of Children and Family Services Statewide Central Register Database and the NYS Justice Center, Staff Exclusion List.
COVID-19 Surveillance Testing
Full-time Child Care Center staff participate in weekly saliva testing for COVID-19 through Syracuse University. Weekly testing is not required by NYS regulations, however, we believe that weekly testing is an important surveillance measure to protect our children, Center families, our staff, and student employees/practicum students.
Are student employees and students with practicum placements at the Child Care Centers tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis?
Yes, student employees and students with practicum placements at the Child Care Centers participate in weekly saliva testing for COVID-19 through Syracuse University.
Weekly testing is not required by NYS regulations, however, we believe that weekly testing is an important surveillance measure to protect our children, Center families, our staff and student employees/practicum students.
Is there a certain day of the week that is recommended as a “better” day to perform COVID surveillance testing for students and staff?
As per our Health Care Consultant for the Syracuse University Child Care Centers, the day of the week that testing takes place does not have a significant impact. Weekly surveillance testing is part of our comprehensive COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Is surveillance testing more than once per week for child care center staff, student employees, and practicum students?
As per our Health Care Consultant, once weekly testing is sufficient for surveillance testing of asymptomatic staff, student employees and practicum students. Any staff, student employees, and practicum students with symptoms are asked to stay home and get tested.
The Child Care Centers follow NYS Office of Child & Family Services recommendations and regulations regarding mask wearing for staff members and children. Specifically, the NYS Office of Child & Family Services Regulations require:
- Any Individual two years of age or older, who is able to medically tolerate a face covering, must wear a face covering when indoors, subject to applicable Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) standards and recommended exceptions.
- Any individual who claims that they are unable to medically tolerate a face covering must provide medical documentation of such to the Office upon demand.
Children and staff members aren’t required to wear a specific type of mask. However, all staff members have been advised of how a mask should be worn: over the nose and mouth; and they have received information on the different types of masks available. In addition, a CDC infographic is posted in each center with CDC recommendations on mask-wearing for children. Families also received an email containing a link to a NYTimes article with masks suggestions for children.
Cleaning at the Centers
All rooms, equipment, surfaces, supplies and furnishings accessible to children are cleaned and then sanitized or disinfected, using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA registered product, as needed to protect the health of children. Classroom staff spray down surfaces with a bleach and water solution several times throughout the day. Toys are rotated out frequently, placed in a bleach and water bath or sprayed with a bleach and water solution, and set out to air dry after the center closes for the day. Staff replace their classroom bleach and water solution daily. All Child Care Center COVID-19 health and safety protocols have been carefully reviewed and guidance provided by public health experts.