COVID-19 Best Practices for Early Childhood Education (ECE)

This page will help keep early childhood education (ECE) professionals informed on best practices for keeping children, staff and families safe and healthy as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) recognizes helping young children to be comfortable wearing face masks and to keep face masks on may be challenging. It is important to help children feel more secure wearing a face mask when around other children and adults.

The CDC COVID resource pages are recommended as the primary source of up-to-date and accurate information. As recommendations regarding the mitigation of COVID-19 continue to evolve, child care providers are urged to stay up-to-date on the most recent CDC Guidance for Operating Child Care.

Best Practices and Resources for Child Care Providers:

Resources for Use with Children

The CDC COVID resource pages are recommended as the primary source of up-to-date and accurate information. As recommendations regarding the mitigation of COVID-19 continue to evolve, child care providers are urged to stay up-to-date on the most recent CDC Guidance for Operating Child Care

Best Practices for Child Care Providers:

  • Improving ventilation is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy that can reduce the number of virus particles in the air. Healthy indoor air reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. Ventilation is an extremely important because we know the Delta Variant transmits very easily indoors. Ventilation can reduce the likelihood of spreading disease in all group care settings.
  • Bringing fresh outdoor air into a building or home helps keep virus particles from concentrating inside. This can be done by safely opening multiple doors and windows, using child-safe fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows, and making changes to the HVAC or air filtration systems.
  • Do not use ionizers because ionization of the air aggravates respiratory conditions such as asthma.
  • If your child care center or family child care home does not have an HVAC system or lacks extra filtration, consider using a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaner. HEPA cleaners trap particles that people exhale when breathing, talking, singing, coughing, and sneezing.
  • When choosing a HEPA cleaner, select one that is the right size for the room(s). One way to do this is to select a HEPA fan system with a Clean Air Delivery that meets or exceeds the square footage of the room in which it will be used. See EPA’s Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home for more information.
  • Key questions to ask about HVAC Systems and Ventilation:
    • Does our HVAC system have a filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher to filter pollutants (e.g., pesticides, wildfire smoke) or harmful particles (e.g., COVID-19) from the air? If not, can this system accommodate such a filter?
    • Does our HVAC system meet the goal of exchanging the air in the room at least five times an hour? If not, are there ways to improve the air exchange?
    • Do we need to improve our mechanical or natural HVAC ventilation systems?
    • Do we need to change or supplement our ventilation systems with exhaust fans, portable fans, portable air cleaners, or new filters?
  • Outside is a safer choice than inside. Outdoor activities should be prioritized. When possible, physically active play should be done outside. Maintain cohorts if feasible in outdoor play spaces.

Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation Resources

Previous Resources from the Pennsylvania Key Website

Additional Information