August 13, 2021
COVID-19 Updates for Child Care Programs
Austin-Travis County is in Stage 5
In response to COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continuing to surge to pre-vaccine levels, Austin Public Health (APH) raised the area’s risk-based guidance to Stage 5, its highest level. The key recommendations to the community during Stage 5 are:
Fully vaccinated individuals should:
- Wear a mask.
- If you are high-risk with underlying conditions, avoid large gatherings where masks are not required.
- Help us get the rest of the population vaccinated by talking with your loved ones.
Partially or unvaccinated individuals should:
- Get fully vaccinated.
- Stay home and avoid gatherings, travel, and choose curbside and delivery options.
- If you must go out, wear a mask when conducting essential activities. Choose establishments that are protecting their customers and staff with mask wearing, social distancing and measures to stop the spread of COVID-19
For full recommendations and to see the new Risk-Based Guidelines charts regarding actions for vaccinated and unvaccinated/partially vaccinated individuals, please visit the City of Austin COVID-19 website.
New City/County Orders on Masking in Public Schools
Please note that as of August 12, 2021, the City of Austin and Travis County requires face coverings be worn in public school settings.
This decision was based on a rapid increase in hospital admissions, cases, and test positivity rates across the community. The accelerating need to provide care for unvaccinated people who are seriously ill due to COVID-19 has filled area Intensive Care Units (ICUs). An increasing number of infants, children, and teens have experienced severe illness due to the Delta variant, and those under 12 years of age are especially vulnerable, as they are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Under the latest orders enacted by the City of Austin and Travis County:
Students, staff, and visitors over the age of two are REQUIRED to wear a face covering while on school property, including school buses*, during Stages 3, 4, and 5 as set forth in Austin Public Health’s Risk-Based Chart. This includes all public schools, including public charter schools in the City of Austin.
*Note: Masking is required on school transportation at all stages of the Austin Public Health Risk-Based Guidelines, per a CDC order under the Public Health Service Act. Read the full orders for Austin (Schools), Travis County, and the Health Authority Rules - Mask to be Safe at School (Austin).
Masking in Child Care Programs
Austin Public Health recommendations regarding masking in child care continues to be that masks be worn:
- Indoors by:
- All staff, volunteers, and visitors
- Parents and guardians dropping off and picking up children
- Children age 2 and older
- Outdoors for everyone unless:
- Individuals are engaged in physical activity and maintaining a physical distance of at least 3 feet from others, and/or
- The child care program adopts a written policy that allows an individual who is fully vaccinated to remove their face covering when outdoors and posts a sign explaining that policy at or near each entrance and where information is customarily posted for workers and families.
- On transportation provided by the child care program
COVID-19 Added to the DSHS Communicable Disease Chart
DSHS updated the Communicable Disease Chart and Notes for Schools and Childcare Centers to include COVID-19 as a condition for which an individual must be excluded from child care programs and schools. The chart reiterates that COVID-19 is a reportable condition and cases must be reported immediately.
Report COVID-19 Cases Immediately
As a reminder, once you are aware a child or employee at your operation tests positive for COVID-19, you must:
- Report the case(s) to APH. To do so, email ChildCareInfo@austintexas.gov and request a call back or call the APH nurse line at 512-972-5560. Do not include identifying information about the COVID-positive individuals in your email.
- Report the case to Child Care Regulation.
- Notify all parents in writing and within 48 hours of becoming aware that a child or employee has COVID-19. Remember to maintain the confidentiality of those with COVID-19.
Virtual WFS Child Care Symposium 8/16/21 to 8/21/21– APH session on Covid-19 Updates and Best Practices for Childcare Providers on 8/18/21
Workforce Solutions Capital Area is holding a free, virtual Child Care symposium next week. Austin Public Health will be presenting on COVID-19 Updates and Best Practices at a session on Wednesday, August 18, from 12:00 noon to 1:15 p.m. We hope you will join us. For more information on the symposium, visit https://www.wfscapitalarea.com/our-services/childcare/for-providers/ and click on 2021 Virtual Child Care Symposium & PPE Distribution Event.
Get Vaccinated & Encourage Vaccination!
Austin Public Health wants to partner with organizations and businesses to host vaccine events. To schedule one with your organization or business, you can fill out this form. More information is available in this press release. You can also request a mobile vaccine clinic from the State of Texas by calling 844-90-TEXAS.
Organizations interested in scheduling an education event regarding vaccine safety can now complete the Austin Public Health COVID-19 Vaccination Education Request Form. Please share the following information with staff, families, and friends. The overwhelming majority of the people hospitalized in our area are unvaccinated. It is critical that everyone who is eligible be vaccinated against COVID-19. Don’t wait. Go to Vaccines.gov to find where you can be vaccinated today.
- Austin Public Health is accepting people with no appointment to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. Please visit www.austintexas.gov/covid19-vaccines or call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 to find locations and hours.
- Who is eligible to be vaccinated right now?
- Anyone 18 years or older can receive the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
- Anyone 12 years or older can receive the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine. Austin Public Health offers Pfizer at the Ana Lark Center, and it is also offered through UT Health Austin, Travis County drive-thru, pop-up community events, and other local clinics and pharmacies.