New state guidance allows shorter COVID isolations for employees of short-staffed child care centers

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Child care centers have new guidelines from New York State aimed at helping them get through tough staff shortage issues that shorten some COVID-19 isolations.

News10NBC found out what’s behind the recent change in policy.

One day after new guidelines were released by the State’s Office of Children and Family Services, we talked to Child Care Council CEO Jeff Pier about the new changes for staff members. Pier said what was released is really there to help child care centers stay open during the pandemic.

"Due to the fact of a lot of these programs are shutting down, and limiting the number of classrooms of service. So you have a lot of families that have been trouble finding care right now," Pier said.

One point in the guidance reads, "If your child care program is experiencing staff shortages, a staff member or volunteer should isolate for five days before returning to work." That’s if they’re asymptomatic, and once back they must wear a well-fitting face mask. Pier said a longer absence by staff would put the program at risk.

"They’re not able to meet the ratio of children to adult supervision so a classroom could close down, and if that happens, and occurs that children won’t have the care that they need for the day, or possibly the week, or longer," Pier said.

The next point says, "If your child care program is not experiencing staff shortages, a staff member or volunteer should isolate for 10 days before returning to work."

Pier said, "I do find that odd, but I also know there’s a crisis happening in child care right now, and staff shortages is that crisis. They’re not able to have the right amount of people in these programs keeping them open, and we know that they can stay open safely."

News10NBC also talked to Rebecca Meagher, the director of the Henrietta location of Expressive Beginnings to hear what she thought of the new guidelines.

"Each center is going through a rough time right now with the positivity rate in our community it’s not been easy so getting the guidance from O.C.F.S. I think will help some centers in this difficult time," Meagher said.

Expressive Beginnings also allows its asymptomatic staff members to return to work on their sixth day after getting COVID-19. That employee is required to wear a KN-95 mask while inside their facilities.