Child Care Aware of America recently released the results from Yale University’s first large-scale study of the early childhood education sector during COVID-19, providing some answers to the safety of early childhood educators during the pandemic.
In the study, Yale University researchers surveyed 57,000 early childhood education programs across all 50 states, including Alaska, from May to July 2020.
The study found that programs that remained open throughout the pandemic did not contribute to the spread of the virus to educators as long as there were strong preventative measures in place.
Research revealed that programs that stayed open were particularly conscientious in following recommended infection control measures with more than 90% of open programs reporting frequent handwashing and disinfection of surfaces.
These findings suggest that programs assume no heightened risk from their work – assuming that workplaces keep following core health and safety practices.
Programs also had high rates of other infection control measures –like daily symptom checks, physical distancing, and “cohorting,” not mixing children or items between child groups.
Researchers stressed that infection control practices remain critical, especially in light of “vigilance fatigue,” a tendency to become less careful and consistent in efforts to protect against a threat as time goes on.
“It’s understandable that families, employers, and early childhood development experts all want to see child care programs reopen. It’s hard for parents to work without childcare – and it’s hard for young children to thrive without opportunities to engage with attentive adults and other children,” says Dr. Lynette Fraga, the CEO of Child Care Aware of America
The study comes at a time when local policymakers at all levels are weighing the costs and benefits of reopening businesses and community institutions. Child Care Aware of America and thread hopes this data will guide their assessment of potential consequences and provide positive next steps.
thread would like to thank Alaska’s educators who participated in the study and for providing critical feedback about what safety measures you are taking.