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Health and Safety Requirements

Updated September 10, 2021 

On March 11, 2020, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency in order to maximize the resources available to fight the spread of COVID-19 and minimize public health risks for New Mexicans. The fight against COVID-19 is ongoing, fluid, and requires our collective diligence and attention.

The following is a list of required health and safety practices, effective September 10, 2021, for all New Mexico Child Care Centers, licensed and registered homes, and early childhood professionals.  

Required Practices

  • Parents/guardians may resume entry exclusively for the purposes of pick-up or drop-off under the following conditions:
      • Limit entry to one parent or guardian;   
      • Time spent in facility should not extend beyond that which is necessary for picking-up or dropping-off child(ren);  
      • Masks are required to be worn indoors by all parents/guardians;  
      • All other parental interactions with staff must remain virtual or outdoors (e.g. – parent-teacher conferences, daily reports, payment processing, etc.); and  
      • Ensure physical distancing is maintained   
  • All other access to the facility must be limited to essential visitors, which includes breast feeding mothers, parents/guardians seeking services, therapists, early interventionists and special education staff, FOCUS verifiers and FOCUS consultants, ECECD regulatory staff, and practicum students.  
  • Providers must conduct daily temperature checks and screenings for symptoms prior to entry for non-vaccinated staff and all other essential visitors entering the building.  
  • Masks are no longer required outdoors for staff, children, parents, and essential visitors but are recommended in public places such as parks, etc.
  • Indoor mask requirements remain in effect for everyone age 2 and over.  
  • Licensed providers may operate at group sizes and ratios according to their licensed Star level  
  • Providers must conduct daily wellness checks on every child at the facility.  
  • Masks are required indoors for all staff,  plus gloves and gowns as needed for wellness screenings of children or health screenings of staff and essential visitors.   
  • Masks are required for children age 2 years and older when indoors (except when drinking, eating, or napping)  
  • Training on COVID safe practices is required for all staff, including cooks and transportation staff.  
  • Good hygiene practices are required, including frequent handwashing/sanitizing  
  • Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned often throughout the day and disinfected at the end of each day.  
  • Providers should not serve family-style meals; have employees (not children) handle utensils. Wear gloves when serving children. Plate each child’s meal.  
  • Providers must serve meals in the classroom. If spaces such as cafeterias need to be used—as with licensed out of school time programs—stagger use and clean and sanitize between use.  
    • Transportation safety requirements:  

      • Mandatory mask wearing for passengerstwo years of age and older. 
      • Use the vehicle’s vents and windows to bring in fresh air and avoid using the recirculated air option. 
      • If possible, maintain one empty space between passengers. 
      • Require handwashing/hand sanitizer before and after exiting the vehicle 
      • Clean and sanitize regularly touched surfaces between groups/runs. 
    • Requirements regarding testing for non-vaccinated staff and practicum students.
      • Non-vaccinated staff and practicum students must test for COVID-19 every week. Providers must maintain copies of test results for at least twelve (12) months for review by licensing.
      • Fully vaccinated staff and practicum students do not need to be tested for COVID-19 unless they are involved in a rapid response situation.
    • Providers must exclude children or staff from the program who have two or more symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and/or test positive, including those who are fully vaccinated. Anyone who is symptomatic should isolate themselves and seek testing for COVID-19. 
    • Staff and children who were in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 positive case must quarantine for 10 days (unless they are two weeks past full dose of vaccination or have recovered from COVID-19 infection in the past 90 days).  Anyone fully vaccinated who is exposed to a confirmed case should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after exposure and get a COVID test 3-5 days after exposure; if symptoms develop, they should get tested and self-isolate while waiting for the results.  

    Free COVID-19 Testing

    Testing is also key to protecting ourselves.  The State of New Mexico is proud to offer fast and accurate COVID-19 saliva testing, at no cost, to any person who feels they need a test. COVID-19 saliva testing is available to any person who believes they need to be tested, with or without symptoms. Please select the link above and request codes that will be sent to you automatically via email. 

    Downloadable Resources 

    Health and Safety Requirements Flyer
    FAQ Health and Safety Requirements
    Health and Safety Requirements Booklet

    Click to download: EnglishSpanish

    New Mexico Child Care Emergency Preparedness Plan
    Child Care Assistance Office Hours

    ECECD offices providing essential services are open and serving members of the public!

    • Uploaded July 7, 2021 (PDF)

    Helpful Resources 

    Rapid Response

    Providers must report all positive cases to the:

    1. ECECD Rapid Response Hotline (1-833-866-3272), Please leave a message. 

    2. Department of Health (1-855-600-3453),

    3. and all positive staff cases to the New Mexico Environmental Department Occupational Health and Safety Bureau: (505) 476-8700 or online at

    New Mexico Department of Health

    More detailed guidance concerning best practices related to COVID-19 is available from the New Mexico Department of Health.

    How is ECECD helping child care facilities keep their staff and children healthy and safe?

    When a positive case occurs, ECECD implements its Rapid Response process. This includes temporarily closing the facility for cleaning, as well as contact tracing, instructions on isolation and quarantine, and additional steps.

    Please download this memo from ECECD, the NM Public Education Department (PED), and the NM Higher Education Department (HED) to learn more about the Rapid Response process, including information about the state’s Watchlist and Closure list (Spanish version).

    If child care providers need additional personal protective equipment (PPE), they may email

    What Families Should Expect of Child Care Providers

    All licensed facility and registered home provider staff who live or work in a county displayed in red, orange, or yellow are required to get tested for COVID-19 every two weeks. These geographical distinctions are based on a 14-day rolling average of new daily cases and overall positivity rate.

    Child care providers in New Mexico are also required to follow the health and safety requirements listed above.

    What Child Care Providers Expect of Families

    Consistently follow the COVID-19 health and safety requirements defined by the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH), found at NMC COVID-19 Policies (


    The Department of Health announced beginning Monday, April 5, all New Mexicans 16+ will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C are eligible. In total, all of Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C are now eligible. DOH will continue to prioritize vaccine invitations for Phase 1A, New Mexicans 75 years and older, and New Mexicans 60 years and older with a chronic condition. The CDC has indicated that states should expect meaningful increases in vaccine supply over the coming weeks – including significant increases in the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. New Mexico continues to lead the nation in vaccine distribution, and DOH encourages all New Mexicans to register at vaccineNM.orgThe registration site is accessible from a computer or smartphone and is designed to be user-friendly. New Mexicans who have vaccine questions can visit, and CDC FAQ: 

    New Mexicans who do not have internet access – please dial 1-855-600-3453, press  option 0 for vaccine questions, and then option 4 for tech support. Due to the volume of  calls, please understand that wait times vary.