The following are just a few key health and safety differences between PA Certified Child Care Centers and PA Public Schools.
- PA. Child Care Centers are inspected by the state, at least annually, whereas PA Public Schools may never receive an on-site inspection following the original opening of the school. (CDC Covid19 guidelines require a consistent and constant inspection process).
- PA Child Care Center regulations are primarily concerned with health and safety compliance and with stringent oversight. PA Public Schools are more curriculum focused with little oversight for health and safety. (CDC Covid19 guidelines are primarily concerned with health and safety).
- PA Child Care Centers are constantly and consistently monitored by unannounced inspections and a complaint investigation process to help ensure complete compliance with all regulations. Public schools are seldom, if ever inspected by the state and complaints are usually handled internally or more privately. (Covid19 guidelines are voluntary but more monitoring or oversight helps ensure more compliance and safety).
- PA Child Care Centers are measured for safe spaces and assigned a capacity for each child care space. PA Public Schools are not measured or monitored for safe child care space capacities. (CDC Covid19 guidelines recommend social distancing and more safe space allows more social distancing).
- PA Child Care Centers are required to take children outdoors daily, weather permitting. PA Public Schools are not required to take children outdoors.
- PA Child Care Centers and child care workers have been following strict hand washing and safe sanitation policies for over 30 years. PA Public Schools and teachers do not monitor strict hand washing and safe sanitation practices. (CDC Covid19 guidelines stress frequent hand washing and safe sanitation practices).
- PA Child Care Centers are required to follow specific staff - child ratios and group sizes. PA Public Schools do not follow strict staff - child ratios or group sizes. (CDC Covid19 guidelines stress avoiding crowds and limiting group sizes to help reduce a potential virus from spreading).
- PA Child Care Centers follow strict food handling and provides refrigeration requirements for food brought from homes. PA Public Schools do not provide recommended food handling and refrigeration for all foods. (CDC Covid19 guidelines stress healthy diets and immune systems to help fight viruses).
- PA Child Care Centers have been using nature and play based curriculums for decades whereas, PA Public Schools are just beginning to recognize these Health, Environment, Learning and Play benefits.
In conclusion, in order to open more safely, PA Public Schools can learn and benefit greatly by following the Health, Environment, Learning and Play regulations and practices that PA Certified Child Care Centers have been following for decades. Also, the PA Department of Human Services already has great resources and systems in place that can complement the PA Department of Education Public School systems.
Dennis Smiddle – Executive Director of FANS 4 HELP (a new 2020 nonprofit).
631 Highland Ave.
Canonsburg, PA 15317