Health and Safety Information

With the ending of the Emergency COVID-19 Public Health Order on March 31 2023, the ECECD COVID Health and Safety Toolkit is being converted to a Health and Safety Toolkit that includes basic health and safety information for child care, early intervention, and FIT personnel.

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COVID-Specific Guidance

Updated Feb. 14, 2024

Most COVID-specific guidance and restrictions have been lifted; however, ECECD recognizes that some early childhood programs may wish to continue more restrictive health and safety precautions based on their unique circumstances. Child care providers are encouraged to discuss the new health and safety requirements with the families they serve and create their own COVID-19 mitigation strategies that are appropriate to the current conditions and communities they serve.  

Required Practices

  • Licensed providers may operate at group sizes and ratios according to their licensed Star level
  • Training on health and safety 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

Respiratory Virus Guidance for all Early Childhood Providers 

Protect Yourself from Getting Sick:

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19, flu, and RSV is to stay up to date on your recommended vaccines. Even when vaccines don’t prevent infection, they often tame these viruses, reducing severity, and preventing their worst outcomes, like hospitalization and death. Along with staying up-to-date on your vaccines, practicing good hygiene by covering your coughs and sneezes, washing or sanitizing your hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces can help.

Also, taking steps for cleaner air can help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. This can mean bringing in fresh outside air by opening a window, purifying indoor air, or having outdoor social activities.

If You Get Sick:

Even if you practice these core prevention strategies, you may still catch a virus and develop respiratory symptoms. If that happens, the updated Guidance recommends two actions:

Step 1:

Stay at home. As much as possible, you should stay home and away from others until at least 24 hours after both:

  1. Your symptoms are getting better overall, and
  2. You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication).

This advice is similar to what has been recommended for flu for decades and will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses during the most contagious period after infection. Not all respiratory virus infections result in a fever, so paying attention to other symptoms (cough, muscle aches, etc.) is important as you determine when you are well enough to leave home. If your symptoms are getting better, and stay better for 24 hours, you are less likely to pass your infection to others and you can start getting back to your daily routine and move on to step 2.

Step 2: 

Resume normal activities, and use added prevention strategies over the next five days, such as taking more steps for cleaner air, enhancing your hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses.

People can choose to use these prevention strategies at any time. Since some people remain contagious beyond the “stay-at-home” period, taking added precautions can lower the chance of spreading respiratory viruses to others.

Additionally, all child care providers must
  • Health policies (program’s policies on admitting sick children, when children can return after an illness, administering medication, and
    information on common illnesses) – these policies and procedures must be included in the parent and personnel handbook.
  • Will have a cot or mat available for sick children and it will be disinfected thoroughly after each use
  • Report any of the illnesses on the current list of notifiable diseases and communicable diseases published by the office of epidemiology of the New Mexico department of health;
  • Will notify parents or guardians in writing of any incident, including notifiable illnesses, that has threatened the health or safety of children in the home.
  • Children or staff members absent due to any notifiable disease will not return without a signed statement from a physician.
  •  Separate and constantly observe a child who becomes sick at the center and promptly notify a parent or guardian of the child’s illness.
  • Send a child home when:
    (1) the child’s oral temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit or greater or armpit temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater and the child shows signs of illness or behavior
    changes; or
    (2) an educator observes signs of contagious
    disease or severe illness.
  • Perform daily health check/screenings of all children in care. Findings will be documented and maintained for review.

People who are at higher risk for severe illness who start to feel sick should seek health care right away so that they can access testing and/or treatment. Early treatment for COVID-19 or flu may prevent severe disease in people at higher risk, even if they are up to date with their vaccines. People who test positive for COVID should use the prevention strategies discussed above for five days even if they have no symptoms.

Report a Positive Case of COVID-19

Updated Feb. 14, 2024

To report a positive case of COVID-19 or any other communicable disease in child care, please call the ECECD Intake Hotline at 1-888-351-0037 or email us at

Use of ECECD’s Rapid Response Protocol is no longer required. 

COVID-19 Testing

Knowing if you have COVID-19 can help you seek proper treatment and prevent you from spreading the virus to your family and community. Tests require a quick swab inside each nostril, and results can be read in just minutes.

How to get COVID-19 testing, vaccine, and treatment in New Mexico

July 5, 2022

  • Finding Vaccine and Treatment with Private Insurance or Medicaid: English ┃Spanish
  • Finding Vaccine and Treatment with No Insurance: English Spanish 


COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and they are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control in New Mexico. The risk of infection, hospitalization, and death are all much lower for people who are vaccinated, compared to unvaccinated people. Boosting your immunity keeps you and your family protected.

The most recent COVID vaccine that came out in fall 2023 is all that is needed for adults and children over 5 to be up to date. Information on how to find vaccines in your area can be found at COVID-19 Vaccine | NMDOH.

Health and Wellness Webinars

ECECD hosts a quarterly webinar series where health and wellness matters relating to the PN-3 population are discussed.