Dear Early Care and Education Colleagues,
You are probably aware of a new variant of COVID-19 that has emerged in South Africa and been identified by the World Health Organization as a Variant of Concern. The new variant, which has been given the name Omicron, has now been detected in California and several other states. Experience with the virus generally and with this particular variant suggest that further cases will be found as detection efforts are increased. There is much we do not yet know about this new variant. We do not have enough data at this point to know how this variant compares to the Delta variant we see most often in the United States in terms of the speed with which it spreads or the severity of Illness we should expect among those it infects. Even so, the very quick spread of Omicron in South Africa, where it is now the predominant strain of the virus, should be a warning sign for us. Given that, we ask that you revisit and reinforce all the preventive strategies at our disposal.
Key steps to take are as follows:
- Make sure your facility is organized for prompt, systematic identification of cases and close contacts and for oversight of isolation and quarantine requirements.
- Assure universal and appropriate compliance with masking requirements.3.Practice and reinforce social distancing whenever possible and avoid crowding at any time during the day.
- Consider options to avoid crowding at early care and education program holiday events.
- Remind families to self-screen before their children leave for their early care and education program and to keep their children home if they show any signs of illness.
- Revisit HVAC systems and look for ways to improve airflow even as you move activities indoors.
And, of course, continue to encourage uptake of vaccines among children five and older.
As always, we are enormously grateful for your leadership to date around making early care and education one of the safest sectors in the county throughout the pandemic. Your partnership has been key to keeping our children and our communities safe. Please do take advantage of the support we can provide going forward with this newly intensified focus on prevention.
- For questions about testing or case and contact tracing at schools, call our Education Call Center Line at 833-707-0319 or email ACDC-Education @ph.lacounty.gov.
- For questions about prevention within the education setting, contact our liaison team at (877) 777-5799 or via email at email@example.com.
- For guidance on how to host or promote a vaccine event, contact our Education Vaccine Team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and
- For assistance reaching parents with effective messaging around COVID prevention, contact our Parent Ambassador Program at 626-299-4502.
Debra Colman, MSW
Director, Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education (OAECE)
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
600 South Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 800
Los Angeles, California 90005