Health and Safety Information: COVID-19

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Recent Updates

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.

Important Changes to COVID-19 Health and Safety Requirements

August 15, 2022

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) have released updated COVID-19 health and safety guidance. Based on their new recommendations, ECECD is making the following changes to its COVID-19 Health and Safety Requirements effective immediately (August 15, 2022):

    • Child care providers are no longer required to submit mandatory weekly COVID-19 reports. Child care providers are still required to report positive COVID cases using the established rapid response process and inform families when their child has been a close contact of a individual who has tested positive for COVID.
    • No more weekly testing. Child care staff who are not up to date on their COVID vaccines are no longer required to test weekly for COVID-19
    • Quarantine requirement suspended. Persons exposed to COVID-19, including children younger than two years and children whose disabilities prevent them from safely wearing a mask, are no longer required to quarantine at home following a COVID-19 close contact, regardless of vaccination status.  Early childhood administrators are encouraged to adopt alternative prevention strategies – such as improving ventilation and avoiding crowding – in indoor spaces where children under the age of two years congregate.
    • ECECD’s “Test-to-Stay” program will be discontinued, as it is no longer necessary due to the removal of quarantine requirements. Programs participating in Test-to-Stay may use any remaining tests to screen symptomatic or exposed persons at their own discretion.
    • A 24-hour closure of classrooms after a positive case is no longer required. Cleaning and disinfection of the space is still required before reopening.

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. 

Health and Safety Requirements

Updated August 15, 2022

The following is a list of required health and safety practices, Updated Aug 15, 2022 for all New Mexico Child Care Centers, licensed and registered homes, and early childhood professionals. Early childhood education (ECE) programs are expected to utilize and support  basic, every day infectious disease prevention strategies as part of their normal operations. In addition, programs should monitor local COVID-19 community levels and consider additional prevention strategies as levels increase.

  • Strategies for everyday operations include cleaning and disinfection practices, staying up to date on vaccinations, staying home when sick or symptomatic, and improving ventilation as much as possible.
  • Strategies to consider for areas with high community levels of COVID-19 include wearing a well-fitting mask to reduce spread of the virus, improving ventilation, and increased testing (see COVID-19 Toolkit above for more detail).
  • Considerations for prioritizing strategies include age of population served, risk status of population served, equity, and availability of resources.

 

Early Childhood programs can offer diagnostic testing for students and staff with symptoms of COVID-19 or who were exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the early childhood setting, OR refer them to a community testing site, healthcare provider, or to use an at-home test.

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
  • Providers must conduct daily wellness checks on every child at the facility. Checking temperature is not required.
  • Training on COVID-19 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.
  • Transportation safety requirements:
    • 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.

Quarantine and Isolation Guidance for all Early Childhood Providers

Updated August 15, 2022

For anyone who tests positive for COVID regardless of vaccination status:
  • Stay home and isolate for 5 days. Day 0 is the day of symptom onset, or the day the positive test was taken (for asymptomatic persons).
  • You DO NOT need to get an additional PCR test if you have had a positive at-home rapid test. Any positive test is considered positive.
  • Children under two are the exception to masking guidance and should not mask.
  • If you have a fever, or other persistent symptoms, continue to stay home in isolation until your fever is gone for 24 hours and other symptoms are resolving.
  • To prevent the spread of COVID, tell anyone you have recently had close contact with and encourage them to get tested, monitor for symptoms, and reduce exposure to other people.
    For anyone exposed and in close contact to someone who tests positive for COVID-19:
    • Quarnatine for asymptomatic exposed contacts is no longer required as of Aug 15, 2022, regardless of vaccination status. Instead, they should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days, self-monitor for symptoms, and test on day 6. If test is negative continue masking through day 10. If test is postive, follow isolation instructions. If symptoms develop before day 6, xtest immediately and isolate pending results
    • Testing can be done using home tests, or individuals can be referred to a health care provider, public health office, or local testing site.
    For anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of your vaccination status:
    • Get either an at-home rapid test or PCR test if possible and stay at home until you know your test result.
    • If you test positive, follow the guidelines for a positive test result.
    • If you test negative on a rapid test but still have symptoms, continue to stay at home and get a PCR test OR a second at-home rapid test in 1-2 days.
    • If you test positive on the PCR or second at-home rapid test, follow guidelines for a COVID-positive test.
    Antigen Test Guidance:
    1. If test is positive, follow CDC guidance for people with COVID-19 (isolation)
    2. If you have COVID symptoms and test is negative, test again in 48 hours. If still negative, test again after another 48 hours or get a lab-based tests.
    3. If you do not have COVID symptoms but believe you have been exposed and test is negative, test again in 48 hours, and then again 48 hours after the second test for a total of 3 tests.
    4. If test is positive on any repeat test, follow CDC guidance for people with COVID.

    Rapid Response Portal

    Child care programs with a  positive COVID case are still required to file a report to the New Mexico Early Childhood Education & Care Department Rapid Response Intake Portal system. Closure is not required but cleaning and disinfection should still occur and close contacts should be notified.

    Rapid Response Portal for Child Care Programs

    Updated August 15, 2022

    If you need assistance with identifying close contacts and making an online report, you can call the ECECD Rapid Response Hotline (1-833-866-3272) and provide your email address, your EPICS or license ID if available, your phone number, and whether it is a positive case or close contact. Calls will be returned in the order received between the hours of 8 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday. 

    Rapid Response Portal for Early Intervention providers (FIT and Home Visiting)

    Effective March 1, 2022, Early Intervention providers will report positive COVID-19 cases via the Family Support and Early Intervention Division portal found at ececd.vaccinenm.org/fsei-login.html. Programs can also request a referral to the ECECD Families FIRST team, which offers resources to help with insurance, food, and other assistance. ECECD Families FIRST nurses can provide education, resources, and advice on health, nutrition, and nurturing.  

    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 

    Helpful Resources

    New Mexico Child Care Emergency Preparedness Plan
    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 child.care@state.nm.us.

    What Families Should Expect of Child Care Providers

    Child care providers in New Mexico are 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 listed above.

    Vaccinations 

    June 21, 2022

    The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) announced young children aged six months through four years old are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination, following approvals from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week.

    Parents and caregivers can register their children or dependents for vaccination by scheduling online at VaccineNM.org and adding them to their own vaccine profile. Parents and caregivers can also call their provider/pharmacy to check for appointments. Vaccinations are free. No identification is required to be vaccinated, and vaccines are available to New Mexicans regardless of immigration status.

    If you haven’t already, now is the time to schedule your COVID-19 booster. The CDC says everyone 12 and over who is fully vaccinated should get a booster. 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. Schedule your booster today at VaccineNM.org. Schedule an appointment by phone 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day by calling 1-855-600-3453, then select option 3.

    Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose, regardless of which vaccine already received. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots. You can also find a booster frequently asked questions at Get Vaccinated New Mexico | NMDOH (vaccinenm.org)

    Available data right now shows that all three of the COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant.