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Program Operations Plan - COVID


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

Head Start and Early Head Start Staff will be required to provide a copy of their COVID-19 vaccine card to retain employment with SLO HS/EHS program or a Letter of Medical Exclusion due to severe life threatening health conditions.

Consultants, Contractors, LEA’s will be prohibited entry in the classrooms until proof of their COVID-19 vaccine verified.  Any classroom staff member can verify the vaccine record. We do not need a copy, only visual verification.  Parents will need to have their COVID-19 vaccine record visually verified by any classroom staff before entry in classroom. 

A completed parent volunteer packet must be on file in the Head Start Administration office before any parent can volunteer in the classroom, attend parent meetings and /or parent trainings.  Classroom Staff will have a list of completed parent volunteer packets disseminated by the Family Wellness Manager.


In the Event a Student or Staff Member Develops COVID-19 Symptoms

  • Student or Staff must isolate from others.

  • Student must wear a facemask until parent/caregiver picks up the student.

  • Students or Staff will need to return home, monitor symptoms and return a day after symptoms subside.

  • Health & Safety Manager will contact parent or staff to confirm positive results.

  • Health & Safety Manager will contact the RST Task Force for quarantine dates of the Covid-19 positive person.

  • For an employee to use COVID-19 Admin leave, the employee must provide a letter from the South Dakota Department of Health or the RST Task Force.


Procedures for picking up students on bus (am route)

  • Child’s temperature must be taken before boarding the bus.


In the Event COVID-19 is Confirmed in a Student or Staff

Any HS or EHS classroom who has a student or staff person confirmed with COVID-19 must:

  • Contact your doctor.

  • Stay home and quarantine for 5 days or until the South Dakota Department of Health or RST Task Force releases you.

  • If test is negative, exposed persons may return to work and school after testing.

  • If test is positive, individual will stay home for 5 days from date of testing.

  • If student tested positive, the center will remain open and staff will monitor themselves and children for COVID-19 symptoms. Staff will disinfect student’s area and center.

  • If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves.

  • 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.

  • If a parent is positive but cannot isolate away from student, student is able to return to school as long as they are not displaying COVID-19 related symptoms.


When Staff are Fully Vaccinated and Exposed:

  • Wear a mask around others for 5 days

  • Test regularly for exposure and if displaying symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fully vaccinated staff can return to work

  • If you are considered a ‘Contact of a contact’ you may return to work

  • Self-monitor symptoms for 5 days.

  • When or if symptoms occur, the employee should test and return to work when symptoms subside.


When Students are NOT Fully Vaccinated and :

  • Child is able to return to school as long as they are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Child will need to wear a mask for five (5) days as long as they are able to. RST task force encourages staff and students to get tested regularly if exposed.


COVID-19 Symptoms Include 

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

  • 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

Student Exclusion

If a child is excluded from school due to displaying Covid-19 related symptoms, the child may return to school as long as symptoms of COVID-19 have subsides for 24Hours and the child has been under a physician’s care. Child must have Dr’s note to return

Staff Requirements        

All staff must take their temperature and record when entering the center. If the temperature is at or above 100.4° F, the employee will get tested for COVID-19 and remain home until fever free.

  • All program staff must provide a copy of their COVID-19 vaccine immunization record in order to be qualified for employment in the Head Start/Early Head Start Program.  The exception is if the employee provides a doctor's statement stating they are not medically able to be COVID-19 vaccinated.

  • All staff will take their own temperature each morning and record all information on the Daily Health Screening Check-In sheet.

  • Clean face masks must be worn daily.

  • All staff in EHS infant rooms must wear shoe covers.

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

  • Hand sanitizer pumps must be located in all classrooms, kitchen, bus and front entrance.

  • Staff must not gather in a group within the center.

  • Vaccinated staff must remain 3 feet apart when possible.

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

  • Each classroom employee will be assigned 3 aprons.

  • Aprons must be laundered daily.

Maintaining Social Distancing with Students

Social distancing among young students is difficult. The CDC’s response to social distancing with young students 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.  Refrain from any staff member moving from classroom to classroom within the center.

Procedure for Picking up & Dropping off Students

  • Parents must wear a facemask when dropping off students at the center.

  • Parents must ensure that their student(s) has one change of clothes in the classroom at all times in case of accidents.

  • 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 students, parents will be asked health-screening questions. Students cannot enter the center if the answer to any of these questions is yes. Consideration will be given to students who are diagnosed with asthma or have seasonal allergies due to similar symptoms. If, however, the students is experiencing moderate to severe symptoms, the students cannot stay (i.e. frequent coughing, sneezing, etc.). The students must have a health care plan documenting the diagnosis or a letter from the doctor stating the diagnosis and symptoms. Reference Daily Health Screening Check-In sheet.

  • In addition, staff person will make a visual inspection of the students 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 students temperature and record this on the students Daily Health Check form. If the temperature is 100.4 degrees or above, the student cannot stay and cannot return to the class until the student is fever free for 24 hours without medication. 

  • Hand hygiene stations are set up at the entrance of the facility, upon students entry to the building, he/she should use hand sanitizer. A staff person will assist.

  • Students can use the sink in the classrooms for handwashing when available.

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

Student Pick up

  • The Parent/Guardian or delegated individual picking up the student must be on the pick-up/drop off list. The Parent/Guardian or delegated individual will call the center phone number when they arrive at the center (unless vaccinated) and must remain outside. The student will be brought to the center door. A staff person will walk the student to the door.

  • Students must sanitize their hands prior to departure from the classroom.

Classroom Management

  • Student/Staff Center Ratio and Group Size:

  • Early Head Start Infants 1: 4

  • Toddlers 1:4

  • Head Start 1:10

  • Classrooms follow the scheduled routine and lesson plan

  • A playground schedule will be followed to allow time outdoors (Mission & Rosebud)

  • Lessons outdoors are encouraged, practice Active Supervision

  • Sand and Water tables will be 4 students at a time, students will rotate as needed.

  • Sensory play experiences are modified for individual use.

  • Dramatic Play will include plastic kitchenware, baby dolls and other plastic items easily sanitized and clothed items will be washed daily.

  • Materials must be sanitized daily.

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

  • Computers are positioned so students 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, students tables, swings etc.) is sanitized after each use when possible.

  • Promote individual art and table work with no more than four students at a table. Materials are given to individual students 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.

  • Keep a distance of three feet when possible. Find creative ways for students 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.

  • There will be times when the staff must have close contact with the students, including but not limited to: washing, feeding, or holding students. Staff can protect themselves by wearing an apron.

  • Staff must change the students clothes if bodily fluids are on the students clothes. They should change the apron, if there are bodily fluids on it, and wash their hands again.

  • Contaminated clothes will be placed in a plastic bag or laundered.

  • Infants, toddlers, and staff should have a minimum of one change 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.


  • Toys that cannot be cleaned and sanitize, should be laundered daily. This includes stuffed animals, pillows, dress-up clothes, and other porous equipment/materials that are not easily sanitized.

  • Toys that students have placed in their mouths or that are otherwise contaminated by body secretion or excretion 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 student’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.

  • Sand/ Water tables will be used for sand and water only. Staff will sanitize sand/ water tables daily.

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


  • At naptime, ensure that student’s cots, cribs or mats are labeled and spaced out as much as possible, ideally 3 feet apart. Students rest head to toe.

  • Sanitize all cribs, cots, sleep mats after use.

Tooth Brushing

  • All head start toothbrush cups will be labeled and place on shelf above sink in the classroom, toothbrushes must be placed upside down in the toothbrush cups when not in use.

  • All early head start infant and toddler brushes will be labeled and placed in clean individual bags and placed in an area where students cannot reach.

  • Students will brush teeth after lunch individually monitored by a teacher. Encourage parents to regularly brush student’s teeth at home.




Outdoor Equipment

  • Staff can take students 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.

  • Staff cannot take infants for walks in their strollers due to close proximity of students.

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 and provided by the program, and must be the only cleaning supply used in the center.

Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces

  • Surfaces must be sanitized after use.

  • If surfaces are dirty, they must be cleaned using a registered disinfectant.

  • Doorknobs, railings, bathroom sinks, toilets, and stall doors will be cleaned daily.

  • Windows must be left slightly open to allow for circulation during classroom hours.  

Soft (Porous) Surfaces

  • Classroom rugs will be vacuumed and sanitized (shampooing rug and using Lysol spray after students have left) on a daily basis.


  • Remove any visible contamination from cell phones, tablets, touch screens, and keyboards.

  • 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.


  • 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.

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 90% alcohol may be used.

  • However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap & water.

Additional Key Times to Clean Hands

  • After coming in contact with bodily fluids

  • After using the restroom

  • Before eating or preparing food

  • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance, such as all students.


  • Training toilets (classroom) must be cleaned after each use.  This involves wiping down the door stall, wiping the toilet, and sinks. 

  • Staff bathrooms will be cleaned at the end of the day.

  • Classroom staff must use the bathroom at separate times to avoid students waiting in hallways.

Food Prep and Meal Service – Family Style

  • All classroom staff are considered food handlers, in addition all staff must follow the guidelines as stated below.

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

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

  • Staff must ensure students wash hands prior to and immediately after eating.

  • Staff will assist students when serving themselves.

  • Staff who diaper students should not do food preparation.

  • 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. 

  • Teachers will have student helpers to assist teachers with setting up or cleaning tables.

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

Transportation Procedures - Re-opening Centers to Students

  • Staff must have mask and gloves upon arrival at each designated stop

  • The Bus Driver will honk 3 times.

  • The Bus Monitor must walk to the door of each stop to greet students/parent.

  • When the bus picks up child, staff will ask parents or guardian the Bus Child Screening Questionnaire questions.

  • Bus Monitor will take the student’s temperature and record it on their Bus Students Screening Questionnaire/ Log. This will be used to document each students pick up and drop off and for the use of screening the students for COVID-19.

  • After completion of screening, the Bus Monitor will forward screening results to the Health and Safety Manager, if students have any symptoms of COVID-19, students will stay home if any symptoms are present.

  • The Bus Monitor will then escort the students if cleared to the bus and secure them in approved student’s safety restraints.

Updated 10/7/2022

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