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    The Head Start program, including Head Start for children aged 3-5 years and Early Head Start for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women, promotes early learning and healthy development among children aged 0-5 years whose families meet the annually adjusted Federal Poverty Guidelines* throughout the United States.† These programs are funded by grants administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF). In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act,§ which appropriated $750 million for Head Start, equating to approximately $875 in CARES Act funds per enrolled child. In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, most states required all schools (K-12) to close or transition to virtual learning. The Office of Head Start gave its local programs that remained open the flexibility to use CARES Act funds to implement CDC-recommended guidance (1) and other ancillary measures to provide in-person services in the early phases of community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in April and May 2020, when many similar programs remained closed. Guidance included information on masks, other personal protective equipment, physical setup, supplies necessary for maintaining healthy environments and operations, and the need for additional staff members to ensure small class sizes. Head Start programs successfully implemented CDC-recommended mitigation strategies and supported other practices that helped to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission among children and staff members. CDC conducted a mixed-methods analysis to document these approaches and inform implementation of mitigation strategies in other child care settings. Implementing and monitoring adherence to recommended mitigation strategies reduces risk for COVID-19 transmission in child care settings. These approaches could be applied to other early care and education settings that remain open for in-person learning and potentially reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

    Citation

    Fátima Coronado, Sara Blough, Deborah Bergeron, Krista Proia, Erin Sauber-Schatz, Marco Beltran, Katherine Troy Rau, Andria McMichael, Tracye Fortin, Mark Lackey, Jovanna Rohs, Tracey Sparrow, Grant Baldwin. Implementing Mitigation Strategies in Early Care and Education Settings for Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission - Eight States, September-October 2020. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report. 2020 Dec 11;69(49):1868-1872

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    PMID: 33301431

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