Ratios, Masks, and Space Set-up
Information for setting up your center to follow social distancing guidelines
Groups should be stable, meaning the same children and staff are in the same group each day. Stable groups should be as small as possible. All children and staff in a stable group must be able to stay 6 feet apart from each other within their space.
The ratios for centers are the same as before COVID-19 pandemic.
- 0-18 Months: 1:4 staff-to-child ratio
- 18-36 Months: 1:6 staff-to-child ratio
- 3 Years-Kindergarten Entry: 1:10 staff-to-child ratio
- 0-School Age (Mixed Age Groups): 1:6 staff-to-child ratio
- When possible, put children who live in the same household in the same group, even if they would normally be in different age groups.
- Limit visitors as much as possible.
- Early educators are allowed to rotate or float between stable groups of children if needed.
Masks and Protective Wear
Masks are required for everyone in an early learning program, even people who are fully vaccinated.
The L.A. County Department of Public Health has created signs to post outside of your program to let staff, families, and visitors know that masks are required.
These signs are available in multiple languages.
- Site must provide face coverings for staff.
- All staff should wear cloth face coverings (masks) at all times while indoors, except when alone in a private office or an enclosed cubicle or when eating.
A clean mask or face coverings should be worn each day. Mask and face coverings should be washed after each use.
The recommended mask type is pleated and fits snugly under your chin.
- Staff who care for children under 2 or children who can’t wear a mask should wear face shields over their masks. Sites should provide these face shields. See the infant care page for more details.
- Staff should change clothes whenever bodily secretions land on the fabric. Staff can wear nursing scrubs, aprons, or extra clothing on top of their regular clothes.
- Infants and toddlers: Children under 24 months old should not wear face coverings.
- Preschool: Children who are 24 months through 8 years old should wear face coverings. Teachers should supervise children to make sure they can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation.
- Children with breathing problems should not wear cloth face coverings.
- Families must wear masks when dropping off and picking up their children.
- Invite staff to design their own protective wear.
- Exaggerate facial expressions with eyes and body gestures.
- Create buttons with pictures of the teachers’ smiling faces for them to wear.
Children and families
- Encourage children 24 months to five years old to wear face coverings—be positive!
- Help children decorate extra face coverings. For example, they could decorate their mask to look like their favorite book character or favorite animal. They can use the decorated mask as their persona for dramatic play.
- Use gentle approaches and positive re-direction to reinforce mask wearing, such as “Remember to hide your nose!” and “Wearing a mask makes you a superhero!”
- Be positive with parents/caregivers and children about mask wearing.
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Space Set-up for Social Distancing
Early care and learning programs should maintain social distancing as much as possible. Set up your space to keep children in the program 6 feet apart. Make sure your set-up allows stable groups of children to not mix in classrooms, outdoor spaces, or common spaces.
Think about the flow between activities during the day and from inside to outside activities.
Give educators time to plan out their classroom set-ups. Educators can think about how to make them welcoming while staying within guidelines.
Site set-up if you have more than one group of children
- Each group should stay in a separate room.
- Groups should not mix with each other in classrooms, outdoor space or any common space within the facility.
- Large classrooms can be separated into smaller areas, each serving up to 12 children.
As of April 5, 2021, L.A. County guidance does not require having physical dividers in classrooms. There is no maximum group size, as long as children and staff can be 6 feet apart. Please make sure space set up follows the ratio and spacing requirements shard on this page.
- Re-organize your furniture to put six feet between children’s activity stations, tables, and chairs.
- Place chairs or mats in a circle six feet apart for story time and/or group discussions.
- Try to have a set-up that lets children see and communicate with each other.
Arrange tables in a circle or square with children facing in, so that they can be 6 feet apart but still see each other
- Use your outdoor space as much as possible for children’s work and play.
- Make individual baskets or crates of supplies for activities for each child. Materials should be cleaned and disinfected at key times throughout the day and at the end of the day.
- Give children their own workstations. Label children’s workstations and baskets with their names.
Staff Area Set-up
Rooms or areas used by staff for meals or breaks must be set up to ensure at least six feet between people:
- Post a maximum occupancy that ensures at least six feet between individuals
- Stagger break or meal times to reduce occupancy in break rooms or areas
- Place tables six feet apart and ensure six feet between seats by:
- Removing or taping off seats to reduce occupancy,
- Placing markings on floors to ensure distancing, and
- Arranging seating in a way that minimizes face-to face contact. Use of partitions is encouraged to further prevent spread but should not be considered a substitute for reducing occupancy and maintaining physical (social) distancing.
Post signs informing staff of the risk of COVID-19 due to shared mealtimes and breaks.
Post signs asking staff to not socialize with staff outside of their group.
Preschool classroom set-up
- Let children decorate and personalize their workstations.
- Place outdoor crates made from safe and durable materials 6 feet apart. Each child can use one crate for pretend play (i.e. cars, trucks, trains).
- Use colorful and fun items as floor markers spaced 6 feet apart, so children know where to sit or stand.
- Use gentle approaches and positive redirection to reinforce physical distancing, such as, “Show me your airplane arms!”
Infant/toddler classroom set-up
- Set up stations or individual containers of materials for infants to manipulate and play with independently.
- Give infants and toddlers individual plastic storage bins of toys and manipulatives. Let them reach into the bins to explore and find toys.
- For shared items: Clean and disinfect all manipulatives, sandbox toys, play surfaces and indoor and outdoor learning equipment between each child playing with them.
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