Program Operations Plan - COVID

Sicangu Lakota Oyate Head Start and Early Head Start centers must follow the procedures listed below. Restrictions for outside professionals and volunteers will be enforced and all must follow the proper protocols of temperature checks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and facemasks.     


Staff Requirements


All staff must take their temperature and record when entering the center.  If the temperature is at or above 100° F, the employee will wait 10 minutes (outside the building) and retake their temperature to ensure accuracy. 

  • One staff person will be designated to take temperatures each morning and record all information on the Daily Health Screening Check-In sheet.

  • Staff will be asking the following screening questions:   

    • Have you or your child been in contact with someone who is suspected of having COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19? If answer is yes, child must self-quarantine for 14 days.  

Does child have any of the following?

    • Fever or chills

    • Cough

    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

    • Fatigue

    • Muscle or body aches

    • Headache

    • New loss of taste or smell

    • Sore throat

    • Congestion or runny nose

    • Nausea or vomiting

    • Diarrhea

*This list does not include all possible symptoms.  CDC continues to update list as we learn more about COVID 19.  Staff must be free of these symptoms for 24 hours, without medication.

  • All staff must wear a cloth facemask at all times during work hours; exception eating, outdoor time and break. *Refer to How to Safely Wear and Take Off a Cloth Facemask.

  • Cloth facemask should not be worn if the person has trouble breathing, is unconscious, is incapacitated, or they are unable to remove the cloth facemask without assistance.

  • Each staff person will receive (2) cloth facemask from the program. Staff are responsible for taking care of cloth facemask. Cloth facemask must be in staff’s possession at all times or put in a Ziploc bag when not wearing on break, eating, and outdoor time.

  • Cleaning the cloth facemask (staff responsibility):

    • At the end of the day, take the cloth facemask off from the straps (not touching the front place in a Ziploc bag and launder at center).

    • Wash it daily with hot water and completely dry on medium or high heat.

    • A clean cloth facemask must be used daily. 

  • It is recommended that staff wear shoe covers that remain in the classroom to change into once they reach the classroom. Shoe covers will be provided by program. Infant teachers should continue to wear shoe covers, per Indian Health Service OEH dept. requirements. 

  • All Staff must wash or sanitize hands prior to entering classroom/office.

  • Staff should not gather in a group within the center and should remain 6 feet apart when possible.  When operational conversations are necessary, staff must utilize walkie-talkies and/or communicate with teachers from the doorway. 

  • There will be times when the staff must have close contact with the children, including but not limited to: washing, feeding, or holding children. It is required that staff protect themselves by wearing a apron provided by program. In case the staff members apron is contaminated, staff must: 

    • Put gloves on to remove apron. 

    • Do not remove the apron over their head due to concerns with contamination.  

    • The contaminated apron should be placed into the classroom washer as quickly as possible and laundered.

           Maintaining social distancing with children

Social distancing among young children is difficult. The CDC’s response to social distancing with young children is that EHS/HS classes should include the same group each day, and the same teacher should remain     with the same group each day, wherever possible. This reduces the risk of infection spread.

Classroom groups merging during in early morning and afternoon when group size is    smaller 

              It is recommended that the same teacher should remain with the same group each day. This reduces risk           of infection spread.

          Sanitizing playground between classes

            Stagger playground times for groups of children, and sanitize the equipment between small groups.

          Procedure for Picking up & Dropping off Children

  • Parents should wear a cloth facemask when dropping off children at the center. 

  • Parents must ensure that their child has one change of clothes in the classroom at all times.  

  • SLO-HS/EHS is not requiring children 2 years and under to wear a facemask, due to concerns about breathing and children with health issues.  If parents want their child to wear a facemask, staff will work with the child to keep the facemask on during the day.  No children should wear facemasks when outside and during naptime. Facemasks must go into a Ziploc bag when child is not wearing it. 

  • A staff person will be assigned to greet parents at the door. Staff person must wear a facemask and gloves at all times, which are changed after each screening. 

  • For parents who arrive at center with child, parents will be asked the following screening questions.  Children cannot enter the center if the answer to any of these questions is yes. *Consideration will be given to children who are diagnosed with asthma or have seasonal allergies due to similar symptoms. If, however, the child is experiencing moderate to severe symptoms, the child cannot stay (ie, frequent coughing, sneezing, etc.).  The children must have a health care plan documenting the diagnosis or a letter from the doctor stating the diagnosis and symptoms.  

    • Have you or your child been in contact with someone who is suspected of having COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19? If answer is yes, child must self-quarantine for 14 days. 

Does your child have any of the following symptoms?

    • Fever or chills

    • Cough

    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

    • Fatigue

    • Muscle or body aches

    • Headache

    • New loss of taste or smell

    • Sore throat

    • Congestion or runny nose

    • Nausea or vomiting

    • Diarrhea

Children must be free of these symptoms for 24 hours, without medication.  This list does not include               all possible symptoms.  CDC continues to update list as we learn more about COVID 19.  

  • In addition, staff person will make a visual inspection of the child for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), fatigue, or extreme fussiness,

  • Staff person will take the child’s temperature and record this on the check in sheet. Child’s Daily Health Assessment Check In sheet. If the temperature is 100 degree or above, the child cannot stay and cannot return to the class until the child is fever free for 24 hours without medication.  

  • Hand hygiene stations are set up at the entrance of the facility, upon child’s entry to the building, he/she should use hand sanitizer.

  • A staff person will be assigned to escort children from the front door to the bathroom to wash hands-and then to the classroom. Children can use the bathrooms in the classrooms when available. 

  • Ideally, the same parent or designated person should drop off and pick up the child every day.


Child Pick up

  • Person picking up child (must be on the pick-up/drop off list) will call the center phone number when they arrive at the center.  Parent can also ring the buzzer but must remain outside and the child will be brought to the door. A staff person will walk the child to the door.

  • Children should wash their hands prior to departure.  This is an OEH regulation.  


Classroom Management

  • Children and staff should not change groups or mix groups. Assign groups and teachers their own classrooms. 

  • Child/Staff Center Ratios and Group Size: 

    • Infants 1: 4

    • Toddlers 1:4

    • Head Start 1:10

  • Classrooms’ follow the daily routine and lesson plan 

  • Sand and Water tables are used to collect toys needing sanitation.

  • Sensory play experiences are modified for individual use. 

  • Dramatic Play is modified for individual experience and not an area. 

  • Promote children’s choice while still limiting the items that must be sanitized. Separate materials into individual child portions on shelves to allow for a minimum of four selections per choice time per child. Rotate materials to promote engagement. The available and sanitized items may be alternated daily.

  • Set up areas for children to play separately, sectioning off areas of the room for individual play.

  • Computers are positioned so children are separated not seated adjacent to each other, and equipment is sanitized/ wiped after each use.

  • IPADs are wiped after each use.

  • Furniture (chairs/couches/child tables/vinyl pillows/exer-saucers, swings etc.) is sanitized after each use when possible.

  • Arrange infant/toddler space with barriers to allow individual play spaces for each child, including individual toys. Staff will still interact with each child, providing necessary care and nurturing.

  • Children are prohibited from bringing items from home such as no backpacks/bags/toys/sippy cups, etc.

  • Children are provided an individual set of classroom materials stored in a labeled Ziploc bag in their cubbies consisting of various art materials i.e. crayons, markers etc. that are not shared.

  • Promote individual art and table work with no more than four children at a table. Materials are given to individual children not shared.

  • Plan activities for individual play and small groups that do not require close physical contact, waiting in line, or sharing objects.

  • Arrange furniture to allow for more physical distancing and parallel play. 

  • Utilize individual carpet squares for social distancing, squares are assigned and labeled for each child and stored in bag in child’s cubby.

  • Keep a distance of six feet when possible. Find creative ways for children to create their own space while staying socially engaged. 

  • It is important to comfort crying, sad, and/or anxious infants and toddlers, and they often need to be held. 

  • Staff send pictures to families throughout the day via Tadpoles. 

  • There will be times when the staff must have close contact with the children, including but not limited to: washing, feeding, or holding children. Staff can protect themselves by wearing an over-large button-down, long sleeved shirt. 

  • Staff must wash their hands, neck, and anywhere touched by a child’s secretions immediately.

  • Staff must change the child’s clothes if secretions are on the child’s clothes. They should change the button-down shirt, if there are secretions on it, and wash their hands again.

  • Contaminated clothes will be placed in a plastic bag or washed in a washing machine.

  • Infants, toddlers, and staff should have a minimum of two changes of clothes in the center. 

  • Staff must wash their hands before and after handling infant bottles prepared at home or prepared in the facility. Bottles, bottle caps, nipples, and other equipment used for bottle-feeding should be thoroughly cleaned after each use by washing with a bottlebrush, soap, and water.

  • When diapering a child, wash your hands and wash the child’s hands before you begin, and wear gloves. Follow safe diaper changing procedures. Procedures should be posted in all diaper-changing areas. Steps include:

    • Prepare (includes putting on gloves)

    • Clean the child

    • Remove trash (soiled diaper and wipes)

    • Replace diaper

    • Wash child’s hands

    • Clean up diapering station

    • Wash hands

  • After diapering, wash your hands (even if you were wearing gloves) and disinfect the diapering area with a disinfecting solution provided that is EPA registered disinfectant. If the surface is dirty, it should be cleaned with detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.



  • Toys that cannot be cleaned and sanitized should not be used. Eliminate stuffed animals, pillows, dress-up clothes, and other porous equipment/materials that are not easily sanitized.

  • Body secretions otherwise contaminate toys that children have placed in their mouths or that or excretions should be set aside until they are cleaned by hand by a person wearing gloves. Clean with water and detergent, rinse, sanitize with an EPA-registered disinfectant, rinse again, and air-dry. Be mindful of items more likely to be placed in a child’s mouth, like play food, dishes, and utensils.

  • Do not share toys with other groups of infants or toddlers, unless they are washed and sanitized before being moved from one group to the other.

  • Set toys that need to be cleaned in the sand/ water table. Washing with soapy water is the ideal method for cleaning. 

  • Children’s books, like other paper-based materials such as mail or envelopes, are not considered a high risk for transmission and do not need additional cleaning or disinfection procedures. Paper/art materials should be passed out to children individually.



  • At naptime, ensure that children’s cots or cribs are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart. Children rest head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread.


Tooth Brushing

  • Children will not brush teeth during the pandemic. Encourage parents to regularly brush children’s teeth at home.


Outdoor Equipment

  • When going outside, the teacher takes the hand sanitizer with them in the backpack. Equipment should be sanitized/wiped with cleaner after each group of children. Only one class may use the playground at a time.

  • Staff can take children for walks and/or have organized gross motor activities outside at least once a day outside of scheduled playground use. Maintain social distancing as much as possible. 

  • Infants cannot go for walks in their strollers due to close proximity of children. 

  • There must always be at least two staff members per class when children are outdoors.


Cleaning and Disinfecting

  • Keeping the center clean is the responsibility of all staff.  Staff must wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves must be discarded after each cleaning.  All cleaning supplies are EPA-registered disinfectants, are provided by the program, and should be the only cleaning supply used in the center.  

  • Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces

  • Surfaces must be cleaned after every time children/staff use that area.

  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using an registered disinfectant or bleach, soap and water prior to disinfection.

  • Doorknobs, railings, bathroom sinks, toilets, stall doors, and any area that is in shared areas will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day.  Windows must be left slightly open to allow for circulation. 

  • Toys are sanitized after each use and cots are sanitized daily.  

  • Soft (Porous) Surfaces

  • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. 

  • Classroom rugs will be removed from classroom. 

  • Electronics

  • For electronics such as cell phones, tablets touch screens, and keyboards, remove visible contamination if present. Staff may not bring cell phones into the classroom at any time 

  • Use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens and other electronic devices. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids

  • Linens 

  • Except in infant rooms, linens will not be used in the classrooms. 

  • If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.

  • Discard and replace any bedding bags that are torn.  

  • Hand hygiene and other preventive measures

  • Staff should wash hands often, including immediately after removing gloves. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 

  • 70% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap & water


Additional key times to clean hands

  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing

  • After using the restroom

  • Before eating or preparing food

  • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)

  • Bathrooms 

  • Bathrooms must be cleaned after each use.  This involves wiping down the door stall, wiping the toilet, and sinks.  

  • Classrooms must use the bathroom at separate times to avoid children waiting in hallways. 

 Food Prep and Meal Service


  • All staff are considered food handlers and must follow the requirements for this. 

  • Teachers will pour the milk for each child and put the cup, along with each plate in front of each child. 

  • Children should be sitting at separate tables while eating.  No more than three children at each table.  

  • In addition to washing hands and wearing gloves a food handler must follow the following guidelines:

  • Fingernail length- Fingernails must be short and clean. Long fingernails are not permitted, as they are hard to keep clean and can rip gloves; they can also chip and become physical contaminants. *This applies to any staff who encounters food, either preparing it or serving it.  

  • The same staff who diaper children should not do food preparation.

  • Sinks are only used for food preparation not any other purposes.

  • Staff should ensure children wash hands prior to and immediately after eating. 

  • Staff should wash their hands before preparing food and after helping children to eat for all meals and snack times

  • Children will not assist teachers with setting up or cleaning tables. 

  • Teachers will be gloved and handle all utensils when food is served. 

  • Per the current guidance, all tooth-brushing activities will stop at this time.


          If a Child or Staff Develop Symptoms While in Program

  • Each center must have a designated isolation spot that is not in the classroom.  

  • Child must wear a facemask until parent/caregiver picks up the child. 

    If COVID19 is confirmed in a Child, Family Member or Staff Member

If a child, family member or staff person is confirmed with COVID-19, all children and assigned staff in the room should stay home, and monitor their health.  Children, Family members and Staff should:  

  • Contact your doctor.

  • Stay home until 14 days after last exposure.

  • Check temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.

  • If possible, stay away from people who are at higher-risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.

Staff and children cannot return to center without a Doctor’s note stating they are safe to return.  If a family member is confirmed, they must also bring a doctor’s note stating that the child can return once the parent is no longer contagious.

         Transportation Procedures (Re-opening centers to students)

Upon arrival to each designated stop, must have mask and gloves on. The Bus Driver will honk 3 times and the Bus Monitor must walk to the door of each stop to greet child/parent. Bus Monitor will take their Temperature and record it on their IPad to document each child pick up/drop off and for the use of screening the child for COVID-19. After completing screening, Bus Monitor will then forward to the Health and Safety Manager, if child has any of the below symptoms. If no internet area is available at parent location, a paper form will be used, must document when Staff arrives in the center.


IPads are used to document when the child was picked up or dropped off which to eliminate the Child Transportation Log used in previous years. This document will have the Date, Temp, Time and Staff

Name in a section with the following screening questions to check off in Child Plus.

The Bus Monitor will then escort the child if cleared to the bus and secure them in approved child safety restraints with child using every other seat. Give child (3-5 yr. old only) a small amount of Purell hand sanitizer. Health & Safety Manager will be notified if any of the above symptoms are “Yes”.

Mental Health and Wellness

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely increased the exposure of children and families to trauma, stress, and substance use disorders. The Sicangu Lakota Oyate Head Start and Early Head Start Program plays a vital role in supporting the social, emotional, and mental health of children, families, and staff. 


Head Start Heals

When children and families are exposed to traumatic situations that overwhelm their ability to cope, protective factors can help children become resilient, heal, and recover. Some protective factors include strong, trusting relationships and safe, stable environments that promote healing for children, families, and staff. 


Tips to Offering Support for Staff

Supporting young children and families can be challenging, even at the best of times. Staff may need extra support from each other, mental health consultants, and experts. Here are some self-care strategies to consider:

  • Practice deep breathing

  • Spend time outside

  • Be kind to yourself

  • Try a moment of mindfulness or meditation

  • Connect with SLOHSEHSP Disabilities/Mental Health Staff

Tips to Offering Support for Families

The well-being of adults has a powerful effect on the children in their care. Children notice when adults are calm, composed, and joyful, and they learn from our examples. Self-care for families and children is especially important when they are stressed or isolated. Staff can support families by:

  • Making a phone call or sending an email just to say “hello” and offer empathy and encouragement 

  • Offering to talk to the child, giving the parent a break

  • Asking families how they prefer to communicate. Would they prefer a phone call or an email? Would they like to receive materials sent by postal mail or dropped off at their home?

  • Acknowledging the stress of having children at home all day and understanding that we all cope differently.

  • Encouraging caregivers to step away or put their baby down when feeling overwhelmed; for example:

    • Place the child in a safe place or position.

    • Step away for a moment once you make sure the child is in a safe place with trusted adult supervision.

    • Go for a short walk or take a moment to breathe deeply and relax your body.


     Supporting Families of Children with Disabilities from a Distance

Disability services staff will connect with service providers to support continuity of early intervention, special education, and related services for children with disabilities and their families, as appropriate. Once information is gathered from service providers, disability services and education staff will reach out to families with additional supports. 


Strategies to Help Families Support Their Child's Progress from Home
 Encourage families to support their child's learning during daily home activities. Start with one or two   small goals that are easy to embed into everyday routines, such as mealtime, outdoors, and reading. This approach will ease the burden on families who may feel the need to plan and implement lessons at home. Be sure to ask families what they want to address most and where they believe they need the most support.

  • Validate all of the things parents are already doing every day to support their child's progress, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

  • Offer a couple of suggestions per week. Keep it simple so families do not feel overwhelmed or guilty that they are not doing more to support their child. For example:

  • Suggest families try using a "first-then" schedule:

    • "First we'll read a book, and then you can play on the tablet."

    • "First get dressed, and then we can watch a show together."

    • "First I need a break, and then I can help you.”

       If you are in need of mental health support services please contact Kristin at 747-2391 ext. 232.

       If you have questions or concerns regarding disability, services please contact Brenda at 747-2391 ext. 221.