The RIght from the Start campaign recently wrote to Rhode Island Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott urging her to share more data about COVID-19 cases in licensed child care and early learning programs and to prioritize voluntary COVID-19 vaccination availability for our state’s early childhood workforce.
Thanks to the leadership of Governor Raimondo, RIDOH, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Education, Rhode Island’s child care, Head Start, and Pre-Ks have been able to safely reopen, and evidence to date indicates that child care is not associated with significant secondary spread of the coronavirus so long as safety protocols are followed, including quarantining children and staff who have been exposed. This is highly encouraging. Nevertheless, many Rhode Island child care and early learning programs report that they have had to close classrooms and programs when employees, children, and family members were ordered to quarantine due to exposure to COVID or when they contracted COVID. During the months of June and July alone, over 850 individuals were ordered to quarantine for 52 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 associated with a licensed child care or early learning program. Early access to voluntary vaccines for staff will help programs stabilize staffing and reduce the need to close classrooms and programs when individuals are quarantined.