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Transitioning back into care: Covid-19 and your illness policy

This article is part of a series on transitioning children, families, and staff back into care after Covid-19 closures.

States are beginning to reopen after major closures due to Covid-19. There is variance in  approach, but one consistent piece is applicable across all states, regions, and communities – regardless of location, many children will be returning to care over the next several months, and it may take some time and some thoughtfulness to help ensure a smooth transition back.

You may want to update your illness policy to be more stringent during this time. Make sure to share any changes you make with parents prior to them returning to care so expectations are clear for everyone.


  • Temperature check for all children and staff upon arrival
  • Children with any symptoms of illness should not attend child care at this time. Even mild illness symptoms such as a runny nose are cause for exclusion for the time being

We also recommend that you approach this as a partnership with parents, and communicate that you’re all working together to ensure everyone’s continued health

Don’t be surprised, and don’t take it personally, if parents seem stressed about having to miss work due to a child displaying a mild illness. They’ve likely just returned to work after a very hard time trying to work + care for their child, and are going to feel extra worried about missing more time. Empathize with them and reassure them that staying home now will prevent future or further illness, and let them know you’re helping all families follow the same standards at this time

Pro Tip! Start your messaging about an updated illness policy:

Dear Parents,

As you know, Covid-19 has created mass disruption around the world for the last several months. To keep the children, our staff, and all of our families safe and healthy now and into the future, we are amending our existing illness policy to include the following new stipulations. This policy is effective immediately, and will remain in place until you are informed in writing of any new updates.

  • All children and staff will have their temperature taken upon arrival at our program every day
  • Children showing any symptoms of illness need to be excluded from the program until they have been symptom-free for a full 24 hours without the use of medication
  • All respiratory symptoms including runny nose and cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Any temperature over 99.5F 
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Skin rash or blisters
  • Eye discharge or excessive redness (common symptoms of conjunctivitis) 
  • Depending on the symptoms, we may require a doctor’s note in order for your child to return to the program
  • These policies also apply to all staff members of our program

Hand Washing – Directors, teachers, children, and parents must wash hands frequently. Washing hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is the best method to avoid contracting the virus. If soap and water are not available, programs use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60-95% alcohol.

When to wash hands:

  • upon arrival to your childcare program and when you get home
  • after all diapering and bathroom use, after wiping noses, after any contact with bodily fluids of any kind
  • prior to eating, after coming in from outside, after art projects, etc.

Personal hygiene – Children, parents, teachers and directors are asked to cough into their elbows or a tissue and then wash hands immediately. Coughing into your hands puts germs on your hands, which spread very easily). Children are directed to keep hands out of the eyes, nose, mouth – the most common point of entry for germs.

We thank you for your understanding and your partnership as we all work together to ensure the best health possible for all of us.

Thinking through these pieces will give parents a great deal of assurance that you’re working hard on a smooth reopening process, and the more confident parents feel, the more relaxed their children will also feel. Keep us posted on how things are going, and remember to reach out any time for the support of the Wonderschool Community.

Want to read more from this series? Click here to access additional articles on transitioning children and parents back into care.


Wonderschool is a network of quality in-home early childhood programs. Our mission is to ensure that every child has access to a home away from home that helps them realize their full potential. We work with experienced educators and child care providers to help them start their own child care or preschool out of their homes, whether they live in apartments, condos, or homes that they rent or own.