Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Are Child Care Settings COVID-19 Petri Dishes for Child Care Providers? :

December 8, 2020

There are many reasons to open up schools and child care facilities:

There are many reasons to open up schools and child care facilities:

  • Child care providers can continue to work and earn wages
  • Parents can return to work
  • Children receive educational, social, nutritional, and other benefits

However, one of the major concerns about opening up schools and child care facilities is the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission to teachers and child care providers.

Are child care providers at high risk for contracting COVID-19 from their young charges?

In a study early released in Pediatrics this week, Gilliam et al report the results of a multi-state survey of 57,335 child care providers, who completed surveys between May 22, 2020 and June 8, 2020 (10.1542/peds.2020-031971). The authors found that:

  • Half (51.4%) of providers reported that their child care program had been closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • The child care programs that remained open were smaller than usual (7.57 children for center-based programs, 5.62 for home-based programs); 81.1% of children were <6 years old.
  • >90% reported frequent staff and child handwashing and surface disinfecting at least daily.
  • Nearly 80% reported child or staff symptom screening and temperature checks.
  • Half reported cohorting of children, social distancing, staggered arrival/departure times, and no sharing of food.
  • 0.7% of providers had contracted COVID-19. There was no association between COVID-19 outcome and working in child care (OR 0.94; 95% CI 0.73-1.21).
  • Home-based providers were more likely than center-based providers to contract COVID-19 (OR 1.59; 95% CI 1.14-2.23), but there was no difference in working in child care.
  • Providers who contracted COVID-19 were more likely to live in high prevalence counties and to be non-white. None of the variables that were asked explained the lack of association between COVID-19 outcome and exposure to child care.

So, can we feel reassured about these results?

Drs. Heather Tubbs-Cooley, Emily Oster, and Katherine Auger, in a commentary, noted that there were many methodologic strengths of this study, including large sample size, high response rate, and rigorous statistical methods (10.1542/peds.2020-034405). However, they also note that this survey was conducted early in the pandemic, when national testing capacity was limited and when COVID-19 rates in children were low. They also caution that one cannot extrapolate these findings to school settings, as the policies and activities are different from those in child care settings.

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal