When is it safe for my child return to child care?

Does Dr. Weiss think it’s ok for my child to go back to daycare?

I have to go back to work but I’m scared to take my child to daycare.  Is it ok?


Sending your little one back to school right now is a hard decision.  While schools and child care centers should be considering drastic measures to minimize the risks for catching the coronavirus, they will be unable to eliminate all risk. In the end, every family will have to make their own decision using the best guidance possible.

So what should you be looking for as the “new normal” at your child’s daycare?

Imagine this…

It’s the first day back to daycare since you’ve been sheltering at home.  As you pull up to school:

  • The teacher greets your child at the car, or maybe at the door.
  • The teacher is wearing a mask. Maybe your little one is wearing one too.
  • Before entering school, the teacher takes your child’s temperature. If your child is fever free then…
  • You wave goodbye as your child goes into the classroom with the teacher.

And that’s just the beginning of the changes that are designed to limit the risk to children and staff.

You should also expect that your child’s class size will be limited to 10, including staff.  Children should stay with their classmates exclusively; no more joining together on the playground or for early or after care.

Sanitizing should be taken to new levels with hand-washing throughout the day a given. How will toys and books and playgrounds be cleaned? How will classrooms, hallways, bathrooms, and common areas be sanitized?

We know that when children go back to school, they will be sharing germs despite the most stringent policies.  One local early childhood center director said that centers should be operating from a “better safe than sorry” health point of view.  That means there should be more restrictive illness policies in place.  The fever that kept your child out of school for 24 hours may now result in a much longer stay-at-home requirement.   She advised that parents will need to have back up plans in case their child has to be home for an extended time after an illness.

The CDC has created guidelines for child care center to use when planning how best to re-open. These are guidelines, not rules, and include basic recommendations for reducing risks.

Ask for and expect to receive a copy of your child’s daycare center’s new policies and procedures.  Has your child’s daycare or school included the CDC recommendations that will make you comfortable at drop off time?

Is it ok for your child to go back to daycare?  I wish we could give you THE answer. There is no doubt that there are benefits to returning to work and school for you and the entire family – economic, social, educational. Hopefully by knowing what to look for when it comes to reducing risks in early childhood centers, you’ll be better prepared to answer this question for your family.

Postscript: After posting the original blog, I realized that there are two additional points to be made.

Sending your child back to childcare is not a green light that all bets are off.  It doesn’t mean that once children go to school,  families can socialize with anyone and everyone without masks and without distancing. It means that the child’s social circle has expanded by a factor of 10 …children and staff.  And that if families have elderly relatives living with them or family members who are immune compromised, then this is another factor to consider.  Under these circumstances families may want to delay their child’s reentry into school.