Marin County has issued guidelines intended to let childcare businesses and summer camps make plans to safely reopen and accept children of non-essential workers starting June 1.
Steps mandated by the county and approved by county public health officer Dr. Matt Willis to prevent the transmission of novel coronavirus include social distancing, hand-washing, face covering, surface cleaning and disinfecting.
Group sizes are limited to 12 children or fewer and keeping the same group together for three weeks. Arrival times should be staggered and carpooling by parents is discouraged.
Most activities should be done outdoors to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 and shared sports equipment or toys must stay within the designated group, according to the county.
"Social distancing is not natural for kids," said Torrey Kelly, associate executive director of the Marin YMCA, who helped create the new guidelines. "If we have stable groups and small numbers, we can limit risk while letting kids be kids and have fun together."
The guidelines include adapted and updated hygiene rules designed for pop-up childcare centers that opened in March for essential workers during the pandemic.
"The larger conversations we had were about the duration of the sessions and the number of enrollments that would be allowed," Kelly said. "Naturally there are concerns about the sustainability of these practices while we're still experiencing a public health emergency."
Kelly said, "All the organizations that came together to help create the guiding documents were eager to understand what precautions to follow to safely reopen. There were a lot of mixed emotions, but the highlight for me has been the level of collaboration we saw as we brought people together. It's been such an uplifting experience during a dark time."