March 22, 2020
Dear Early Childhood Care and Education Community,
I know that the current public health situation has been a fast-evolving and challenging time for all of us. All of us at OSSE are working hard to support you and the DC community as a whole during this time, and I am writing today to provide a series of updates on a number of different areas, including:
A. The District’s operating status,
B. Child development facilities’ operating status,
C. A special initiative to support child care needs of the health care workforce, and
D. Meals and general resources.
We will continue to work with key partners, other District agencies, and associations to share news and information, resources and supports as the situation continues to evolve.
A. The District’s operating status
On Friday, March 20, Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the District of Columbia Government’s modified operating status through April 27, including the adjusted DC Government operating posture and distance learning for the District’s public schools. DC Public Schools (DCPS) facilities will remain closed and distance learning will take place through Friday, April 24. At this time, classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, April 27. The District’s public charter schools are expected to follow the DCPS operating status.
The Mayor also extended the prohibition on mass gatherings during a public health emergency until April 25, and announced that all DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) recreation centers and playgrounds will be closed to the public.
OSSE is operating on a telework basis and staff remain online and available to support you.
B. Child development facilities’ operating status
The decision on whether to remain open or closed is ultimately up to each licensed child development center or home. Still, we know there are important considerations to weigh, including public health guidance and the needs of families. We wanted to share the following resources and supports for providers who are open, and providers who are closed.
If you are open:
We want to support you in maintaining the health and well-being of your children, families and staff. Please carefully review the attached health guidance document (click link for attachment), as it outlines suggested processes to promote social distancing (by limiting group sizes, maintaining as much distance as possible, and staggering drop-off and pick-up times), screening for children before entering the space, and other key steps. These are not requirements of licensing but, rather, the best new guidance we have available today to support facilities that remain open.
Additionally, as previously announced, the District will continue to extend public payments regardless of attendance to all facilities, even those that stay open.
If you are closed:
As previously shared, the District of Columbia will continue to extend public payments to facilities that are closed during this public health emergency. Our previously issued policy guidance on this topic (click link for attachment) will remain in effect until at least April 27, including how facilities should notify OSSE of closure status.
We have also created a template letter to families (shared previously, click link for attachment) as an optional tool to support you in communicating with your families—please note this is an optional resource, which you are welcome to use at your discretion (and edit and adapt), or not use at all.
C. Special initiative to support child care needs of the health care workforce
During this pandemic, it’s particularly critical that our health care professionals are able to focus on their jobs and maintain the capacity of hospitals and primary care providers. For this reason, we have launched a special initiative to support the child care needs of our health care workforce. By next week, we expect to launch a number of locations to support this particular need, in conjunction with several child care providers, and with the DC Hospital Association and DC Primary Care Providers Association.
We expect to expand to additional locations in the coming weeks. Please contact Eva.Laguerre@dc.gov to learn more if you are interested in partnering with us in future rounds of this special initiative.
D. Meals and general resources
Please note that there are many schools across the District that are serving breakfast and lunch to all children age 18 and younger (regardless of whether or not the children are enrolled in a particular school); specific times and details may vary by site. You can find a full list of meal sites at https://coronavirus.dc.gov/mealsites. This can be shared with your families regardless of your facility’s operating status.
If you have specific questions regarding reimbursements under the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), please contact OSSE’s Director of Nutrition Programs Lindsey Palmer, at Lindsey.Palmer@dc.gov or (202) 304-2153.
Also, please visit coronavirus.dc.gov for ongoing news and resources.
Thank you for your patience, ongoing support and partnership. We appreciate everything you do for our most vulnerable children and their families in the District. Again, we will continue to share news and information, resources and supports as the situation continues to evolve. If you have questions, please contact OSSE.DELcommunications@dc.gov or co-interim assistant superintendents Margareth Legaspi and Eva Laguerre.
For the latest information on the District Government’s response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), please visit coronavirus.dc.gov.