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Ravalli Head Start, Inc.

COVID-19 Policy & Procedures

  • Updated with Health Services Advisory Committee February 10, 2023

  • Policy Council Approval February 16, 2023

  • Board of Directors Approval February 27, 2023

To protect children, families, and staff from infection and illness, 45 CFR1302.47(b)(9) requires Head Start programs to have an evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation policy developed in consultation with their Health Services Advisory Committee that can be scaled up or down based on the impacts or risks of COVID-19 in the community. This policy includes revisions in response to the Final Rule for Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Head Start Programs, published on January 6, 2023 by the Administration for Children and Families and identifies layered strategies our program will implement to minimize transmission and maximize protection from COVID-19.

This document draws from the evidence-based practices published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state and local health departments, and Caring for our Children Health & Safety Standards. This policy allows mitigation efforts be scaled up or down responsive to the level of risk of COVID-19 in the community. RHS, Inc. will stay informed of evidence-based practices and update its policies and procedures in accordance with current recommendations.  RHS, Inc. will review this document periodically and update with new information. 


Families and staff will be updated when changes occur to this policy through program systems such as Child Plus, RHS Inc. Facebook pages, and RHS, Inc. Website. Printed copies will be available as needed.  

Community levels will be monitored by staff. Any change will be shared via Child Plus and posted at facility entrances. 

Father and Son
Baby Learning to Walk

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 self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and notify their supervisor if any develop.

  • Staff who experience symptoms should follow the RHS COVID-19 Symptom Guidance.

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

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

  • 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 experience symptoms should follow the RHS COVID-19 Symptom Guidance.

  • 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. 

  • If you are experiencing symptoms:

    • stay at home and contact your medical provider

    • if you have questions or concerns

      • Missoula City County Public Health 406-258 3896

      • Ravalli County Public Health 406-375-6672

    • Consider testing for COVID-19 using free at-home tests provided by and at each RHS, Inc. facility when available.


  • 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.

  • In the event a child, family member, or staff 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.

Hand Hygiene

Check-In and Pick-up

  • Please check the temperatures 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 stay at home and contact your medical provider. 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’. Masks are optional when community levels are ‘Low’ and ‘Medium’. Masks will be provided for those who need them.

  • Pick-up and drop-off times will be extended to prevent crowding.

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

  • The parent/guardian and child should immediately 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)

  • Self-serve style will be incorporated as appropriate when community levels are ‘Low’.

  • Meals will be plated and served by staff, instead of self-serve, when community levels are ‘Medium’ and ‘High’  

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

  • Toothbrushing will not occur during this time.


Current guidance from OHS states staff must be vaccinated that oversee toothbrushing. We are waiting on clarification from the Regional Office regarding the permanent injunction for vaccination status in Montana in regards to the guidance. We will determine change to the policy based on clarification from the Regional Office.

  • 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.

  • Ventilation systems have been modified to help reduce airborne contaminants.

  • Although children will not be required to wear face masks/coverings, 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • Outside time will be increased when community levels are ‘High’ and ‘Medium’.

  • 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 when community levels are ‘High’.

  • When community level is ‘High’, we will perform an enhanced deep cleaning every night in accordance with local and federal recommendations for child care programs. When community levels are ‘Medium’ and ‘Low’, regular cleaning and disinfecting procedures will occur.

  • 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 when community levels are ‘High’ and ‘Medium’ 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.


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.

  • 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.


Center for Disease Control

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

Caring for Our Children

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