Ravalli Head Start, Inc.

COVID-19 Policy & Procedures

Updated 03/28/2022

In order to keep families, staff and our community safe, RHS, Inc. has chosen to adopt the following changes to its health and safety policies, including illness exclusion.  These changes are in effect until RHS, Inc. provides you with written notice that it is withdrawn.

This document is intended to follow current Montana childcare guidance as periodically updated by ECSB and/or public health officials.  It also draws from the best practices published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).   This is an evolving situation. RHS, Inc. will endeavor to continue to stay informed of best practices and update its policies and procedures in accordance with current recommendations.  As circumstances change, RHS, Inc. will review this document periodically and update with new information. 

Mask Display
Temperature Check

Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fever of 100.4◦ F or higher

  • Chills or repeated shaking with chills

  • Unexplained muscle pain

  • Sore throat

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Congestion or runny nose

Indicator symptoms of COVID-19 may change as new information is discovered.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

  • New confusion or inability to arouse

  • Bluish lips or face


This is not an all-inclusive list. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Staff Health & Wellness

  • Staff will receive additional training on infection control and workplace disinfection.

  • Staff will check their temperature at the beginning of each shift and notify their supervisor if temperature is 100.4◦ F or higher as well as self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and notify their supervisor if any develop.

  • Staff will not be allowed to work on-site if they experience COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Staff will wash their hands immediately upon entering the facility and immediately prior to leaving, in addition to designated times during the day.

  • Staff will wear face masks when community levels are ‘High’ and ‘Medium’.

  • Staff will wear gloves when assisting with toileting, changing diapers and wiping noses.

  • Staff will wear smocks when in the classroom and change when soiled.

  • Staff will not share their phone, devices or meal utensils with one another or children.

Illness Exclusion Policy Updates for COVID-19

The following policies are in addition to our general illness exclusion policy.  If terms are in conflict, this policy controls our illness exclusion protocol.  These policies apply to families and staff.

  • Any enrolled child or staff member who has been notified by Public Health as a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 will be unable to enter the facility until released from quarantine by Public Health. Public Health will determine the need for quarantine based on vaccination status.

  • If in doubt about symptoms, please call before coming to the facility. This will reduce the risk of transmission.

  • Temperatures of children will be taken at entry to classrooms. If their temperature is 100.4◦ F or higher, children will be sent home immediately.

  • If staff or the child exhibit other signs of illness, including those listed above, and any others included in the general illness exclusion policy, they will be sent home immediately.

  • In the case of an ill child with symptom onset after arrival, the child will be isolated in an area that can be supervised, and the parents/guardians contacted to pick them up immediately. 

    • Upon arrival of the parent/guardian, the child will be escorted by staff to the check in location. 

  • If you are experiencing symptoms:

    •  Missoula County residents should contact your medical provider or the Coronavirus Hotline at 406-258-4636 and select “2” to speak to a nurse

    • Ravalli County residents should contact your medical provider or Marcus Daly Viral Services at 406-375-4762

    • If you are accepted for testing, you must stay home until you receive test results. If negative, you must not return to the facility until you are symptom-free, with no help from symptom-reducing medicines for at least 24 hours.  If positive, you must follow Public Health isolation guidance.

    • If you are not accepted for testing, you must not return to the facility until you are symptom-free, with no help from symptom-reducing or relieving medicines for at least 24 hours.

  • It is imperative that the staff or parents/guardians stay in contact with RHS, Inc. and keep us informed of any diagnosis or changing symptoms so that we may continue to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for families and staff. Information provided will be kept confidential but used to make decisions about control measures.

  • In the event a child, family member, staff or close contact are diagnosed with COVID-19, RHS, Inc. will follow current CDC guidelines and local Public Health guidance on when it is safe for those affected to return.  Diagnosed cases will be kept confidential.

Washing Hands
Building Blocks

Check-In and Pick-up

  • Please check the temperatures of you and your child(ren) before arrival at one of our facilities.  If either your or their temperature is 100.4◦ F or higher, or if any symptoms listed above are present, please isolate at home and contact your medical provider or COVID-19 hotline. If you need a thermometer, please let us know.

  • Community COVID-19 levels will be monitored. Parents/guardians who will be entering the building are required to wear masks while in the building when community levels are ‘High’ and ‘Medium’. Masks are optional when community levels are ‘Low’. Masks will be provided for those who need them.

  • Pick-up and drop-off times will be staggered as much as possible.

  • Parents/guardians will be expected to physically distance in the facility.

  • If anyone suspects that they have had close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, but has not yet been contacted by Public Health, they will be excluded from the facility until a determination has been made or Public Health has completed contact tracing.

  • The same parent/guardian or designated person should drop off and pick up the child every day, if possible.

  • The parent/guardian and child should immediately proceed to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer available at entrance before doing any other check-in procedures.

  • Prior to parents signing in their child, teachers will take the child’s temperature. If temperature is above 100.4 or other symptoms of exclusion are notable, the child will not be permitted to attend class.  

  • Parents/guardians will sign in their child outside the classrooms.  Pens will be disinfected after each use.

  • We ask that parents/guardians leave the facility quickly to limit the number of people in the area and to allow other families to drop off their children in a timely manner.

  • The same process will be in place as parents/guardians arrive to pick up their child.

Meal Preparation & Service

  • All surfaces will be sanitized before meal preparation and feedings using EPA-approved products.

  • Children and adults will wash their hands before and immediately after meals (more frequently if necessary)

  • Each child’s meal will be plated and served by staff, instead of served family-style.

  • Children will be spread out as much as possible while still allowing staff to safely supervise.

  • Toothbrushing will not occur during this time.

  • Children will be kept in groups and avoid those groups having contact with one another

  • Group sizes will reflect guidance from state public health officials and CDC.

  • All classrooms will remain separated to the extent possible to reduce the number of children in one area and to reduce the possibility of viral transmission.

  • Although children will not be required to wear face masks/coverings, RHS strives to prepare children to be successful in all environments.  We acknowledge that wearing masks may be required in other settings.  Therefore, we will use a variety of methods in our lesson plans and daily routines to teach older children how to properly wear masks.

  • Younger children may not be able to reliably wear, remove, and handle cloth face coverings particularly for an extended period of time.

  • Young children rely on their caregiver’s facial expressions to learn language and develop social-emotional skills so we are providing masks with clear mouth areas for classroom staff.

  • Cloth face coverings should never be placed on a child younger than two, those who have trouble breathing, or any child who cannot take it off by themselves.

  • A child should never wear a cloth face covering while sleeping, while in the water, or when activity levels will make it hard for them to breathe or cause heat distress.

  • Should a family prefer their child (over age two) to wear a cloth face covering:

  • Teachers will work with children in a developmentally appropriate manner to increase mask wearing indoors and outdoors.

  • Children should never be disciplined for not wanting to wear a mask.  While children can adapt to many new things, they are still in the early stages of development and may need reminders and reinforcements to comply with COVID-19 prevention practices.

  • Mask wearing should be treated as an emerging skill and children should be given positive feedback for their efforts.

  • Staff are required to wear face masks/coverings when community levels are ‘High’ and Medium’. Masks are optional when community levels are ‘Low’.

  • The classrooms will be designed to allow children to play alone or in smaller groups. Classroom activities will be created to promote physical distancing whenever possible.

  • Staff will disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, faucets and materials that children play with throughout the day.

  • Staff will remove any material that has been placed in a child’s mouth or otherwise been in contact with bodily fluids.  These materials will not be returned until they have been disinfected.

  • Materials that cannot be disinfected will be removed.

  • We will perform an enhanced deep cleaning every night in all areas, on all touched surfaces in accordance with local and federal recommendations for child care programs.

  • Staff will have access to hand sanitizer and disposable gloves and use them as needed.

  • Staff will wash their hands and children’s hands upon arrival, departure and frequently throughout the day.

  • No group tours will be given until further notice to reduce the number of visitors in the building.

  • Until further notice, field trips and classroom visits from community volunteers will be limited and approved by appropriate manager.

  • RHS, Inc. requests your cooperation in minimizing contacts by observing social gathering and distancing rules in effect as well as minimizing non-essential travel.


Preschool Learning Pod
Little Boy Playing Doctor

Closure/Limitation of RHS, Inc.

RHS, Inc. will continue to follow federal, state and local guidance in determining whether it is in its best interest, as well as that of community and families, to remain open or to close.  These guidelines are general and may need to be modified depending on the situation.  The program may close if the following events/conditions occur: 

  • State/Federal or local government directs or requests that the program close or reduce attendance.

  • In the event of a positive case of COVID-19 within the facility, the program will close

as needed for disinfecting and contact tracing as directed by local Public Health officials.

  • If we are unable to obtain sufficient items for health and safety such as food, personal protective equipment or sanitizing/disinfecting solutions.

  • In the event of staff shortage and we are unable to maintain an adequate ratio of staff to children to ensure safety.


 https://info.childcareaware.org/blog/grab-adapt-and-go-covid-19-resources-for-child-care-programs  Sample letter notifying families of policy changes


Montana DPHHS Checklist for All Child Care Facilities- COVID-19 (undated).

https://www.missoulacounty.us/home/showdocument?id=71965 Missoula County Public Health “Minimizing the Risk of Spreading COVID-19 in Child Care Facilities – Phase 2 (dated 6/5/20)

https://nrckids.org/  Caring for Our Children