A: The data are not yet conclusive, but there are several considerations to keep in mind to help guide this individual decision.
1) Low level of community transmission matters. This can influence the likelihood of cases arising in the daycare center. We cannot emphasize this point enough. Many have asked what metrics to use. Most states agree that low risk of community transmission translates to fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 (7 day rolling average, new cases) and a positivity rate less than 5% during the past week. Moderate risk of community transmission translates to approximately 10-100 cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 5-10%.
2) Data from your local daycare facilities. The challenge is that this information is difficult to obtain. COVID-19 Explained sought this information from crowdsourced data and found that there were approximately 44 cases reported from 841 child care facilities and 20,000 students. However, this was voluntary data and was not a random sample, did not account for asymptomatic cases, and made no distinction as to the type of facility or control measures in place. More data may come soon from Yale University.
3) State data. This is typically posted on your state’s website. This data can be difficult to find but is important to understanding the context in your state. In many cases, the number of positive cases is representative of community spread overall, but can also inform you as to the number of cases arising from facilities of different sizes, the proportion of children/staff/adults affected, and the regulations in place for the centers to open.
4) Your family’s individual needs. A child’s health is more than simply their physical health. Young children learn through interaction with other children and adults. If your child is younger and/or having difficulty with emotional regulation, social interaction, or learning, this could weigh into your decision. And if your work circumstances prevent you from being home with your child, opting for group childcare may be the only viable option for you. There are several tools out there to help you decide and walk through your decision making process.
5) Your state’s guidelines and mandatory requirements for reopening/staying open during the pandemic. This can inform you regarding appropriate standards and protocols. Childcare.gov has a number of resources to guide you. And the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offers research based guidelines as well as safety principles for child care centers that you can employ. CHOP also provides a checklist of questions to ask about daycare facilities for parents, guardians, and families.
Ultimately this is an individual decision. Remember that the Nerdy Girls want to help you assess the data out there, minimize the risks to the extent possible, and find a balance between risks and benefits for you and your loved ones. We hope that this helps!
Stay Safe. Stay Sane.
*Note: Here we define daycare as formal, group childcare (either home-based or commercial).
Community Transmission (Table 5: Gating Criteria Summary)