As the state continues to implement an endemic COVID-19 management strategy, Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced updated quarantine recommendations for DHS-licensed early learning programs.

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These updates incorporate the latest COVID-19 community levels of risk from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will protect the health of children and staff while keeping children in care and reducing disruption to families.

“With these recommendations, we can continue to ensure that it is safe for children to attend care and also reduce the burden of quarantine on families,” said Governor Dan McKee. “This framework aligns with our strategy to begin managing COVID-19 as an endemic as we are seeing in states across the nation and our federal government. Our neighboring states have implemented updated quarantine approaches for child care with great success, and we know Rhode Island families will benefit from this as well.”

RIDOH recommends child care programs use a Test to Stay (TTS) approach when the state is at a high level of risk and Monitor to Stay (MTS) when at low or medium levels. These modified quarantine approaches allow children and staff who were exposed to someone with COVID-19 to attend child care if they are asymptomatic.

Individuals who are up to date with their vaccines or recently had COVID-19 are exempt from quarantine if they do not have symptoms. Children and staff who were exposed at home and symptomatic individuals should quarantine at home.

The goal of these recommendations is to give providers and families an option for children who are asymptomatic close contacts to attend child care while ensuring that the needed layers of mitigation are in place. Providers can begin implementing these new recommendations on Monday, March 14, 2022 following trainings from RIDOH and DHS.

“Given that young children are not yet eligible for vaccinations, this new quarantine framework is even more important,” said Department of Health Interim Director Dr. James McDonald. “This framework is based on science, data, and best practice, which helps child care programs choose the quarantine approach which best fits their communities and increase safe access to child care for children, families, and staff.”

While the state is currently in low COVID-19 risk, providers can implement an enhanced level of mitigation to meet the needs of the community the provider serves. To support providers that want enhanced mitigation, the state will provide free at-home test kits through June 2022 to enable implementation of the TTS protocol. The RI Association for the Education of Young Children (RIAEYC) will support distribution of tests, in partnership with the state.

“This updated quarantine guidance will minimize disruptions to child care, while continuing to minimize the exposure of COVID-19,” said DHS Acting Director Yvette Mendez. “I am pleased that we are able to support working families, children, early educators, and providers by developing a comprehensive framework. I am also grateful to the RI Association for the Education of Young Children for supporting implementation.”

“RIAEYC is proud to support this effort to help the early learning sector keep kids safe and keep classrooms open,” said Lisa Hildebrand, Executive Director of RIAEYC. “We stand ready to support child care providers in implementing these new quarantine recommendations. Thank you Governor McKee, Director McDonald, and Director Mendez for your continuous support for the early learning sector.”

RIDOH and DHS will host informational sessions for child care providers next week to support implementation of the new quarantine guidance that will go into effect March 14, 2022. If providers opt to not implement these updated quarantine recommendations, then they should continue to implement the existing quarantine guidance from RIDOH.

Additional Information on the New Child Care Quarantine Framework:

In line with CDC new community levels, RIDOH recommends that child care programs implement the following quarantine approaches based on COVID-19 community levels for close contacts (except for household contacts) who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. All other individuals should follow existing quarantine and isolation guidance. RIDOH will continue to work with providers on outbreak response.

  • When COVID-19 community level is high, child care programs should implement the Test to Stay protocol for eligible staff and children age 2 and older who were exposed to someone with COVID-19, except household contacts, and don’t have symptoms. They may attend child care if they:
    • Get a negative result on a self-test at home each morning for 5 days after date of exposure; and
    • Wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask when possible.
  • When COVID-19 community level is medium, child care programs should implement the Monitor to Stay protocol for eligible staff and children age 2 and older who were exposed to someone with COVID-19, except household contacts, and don’t have symptoms. They may attend child care if they:
    • Screen for symptoms and attest to the child care program for 5 days after exposure;
    • Wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask when possible; and
    • Get tested on day 5, if possible.
    • Children younger than age 2 should quarantine at home for at least 5 full days.
  • When COVID-19 community level is low, child care programs should implement the Monitor to Stay protocol for all eligible staff and children who were exposed to someone with COVID-19, except household contacts, and don’t have symptoms. They may attend child care if they:
    • Screen for symptoms and attest to the child care program for 5 days after exposure;
    • Wear high-quality, well-fitting masks when possible if they’re age 2 and older; and
    • Get tested on day 5, if possible.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.