Welcome to the start of a new school year!
Where has the year gone? I’ve clearly lost track of time since the last time I posted was in January. COVID-19 has continued to impact us all in ever-changing ways, confounding recommendations on how best to contain the spread and manage outbreaks. Hopefully we are learning how to live with this virus that seems to be with us to stay. It appears that the Office of Child and Family Services is no longer posting regular COVID-19 updates on its website but rather referring providers to the FAQ, which is updated frequently:
Providers are also being directed to the U.S. CDC for updated guidance:
Although this document is the last OCFS update from spring 2022, it is still relevant: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/documents/Childcare-COVID-Packet-1.pdf
On another more positive topic, those of us who provide consultation through private practices are working on formation of a network to share resources and best practices. One of my colleagues from northern Maine is hosting several conferences for early childhood education and care providers.
To sign up for both sessions: https://clearhealthadvising.as.me/?appointmentType=34776457
To sign up individually: https://www.clearhealthadvising.org/courses
Dates: Topic 1 - October 5th and Topic 2 - October 12th
Times: Topic 1: 10/5/2022 6:30-8:30 p.m. =2 hours Continuing education
Topic 2: 10/12/2022 6:30-8:30 p.m. =2 hours continuing education
Topic 1: Behavioral Health in the Early Childhood Setting with child psychiatrist Julie Balaban, MD.
Topic 2: Understanding and assessing normal childhood speech and language development with SLP Brittany Bubar CCC-SLP
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about these topics, ask questions, get advice from experts, and hear how other providers handle situations.
Wishing you a smooth, safe, and healthy start to the school year!
Addendum to previous post:
My apologies for the confusion and additional message – unbeknownst to me, the Recommendations for Childcare Facilities with COVID-19 Positive Staff or Children (https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/documents/Childcare-COVID-Packet-1.pdf) were just updated January 20th. The guidelines posted on the OCFS website do not align with these updates (they are still from November 2021). I’m not sure when licensing plans to reach out to you all with this update – I have reached out to them for more clarification. I will do my best to try to get answers so that I am providing accurate recommendations. Thank you in advance for your patience.
Belated Happy New Year!
This omicron variant has certainly proven challenging for most (if not all) of you as you continue to care for our youngest children. Some of you are dealing with your first positive cases of COVID despite immaculate adherence to all guidelines for reducing the risk of exposure. The changes in isolation and quarantine periods for the general public (from 10 days to 5 days) has confused and complicated the situation. I understand your feelings of anxiety and frustration; you are likely having to make snap decisions, especially during “off hours” when state resources are closed. Parents are also likely anxious and frustrated, as quarantine and closures impact their ability to work, and I’m sure you are feeling it. My heart goes out to you all.
Please be aware that isolation and quarantine guidelines for early childhood education and care settings have not changed since November 2021 to reflect the CDC recommendations for the general public and for public schools. The U.S. CDC also still recommends the full 10-day isolation (for COVID-positive individuals) and quarantine (for close contacts) – see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/child-care-guidance.html. So, I continue to recommend adherence to the November guidelines from Child Care Licensing until we hear otherwise – see https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/ocfs-covid-response and scroll down to Child Care Licensing.
I am doing my best to keep up with your calls, texts, and email messages and try to respond in a timely manner. I ask for your patience as I may not be able to respond immediately (the spring semester started this week). Remember to check your resources to see if your questions might be answered.
Below are some additional resources that might help inform your decision-making.
Recommendations for Childcare Facilities with COVID-19 Positive Staff or Children: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/documents/Childcare-COVID-Packet-1.pdf
Isolation and Quarantine (replace 5 days with 10 days): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html
I continue to hope that this surge, along with more children being vaccinated, will soon lead us to fewer restrictions and a clearer sense of what might be considered “normal.”