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Cooler weather in Pennsylvania is here. Monitoring children’s temperatures during the health screening procedure may need to be adjusted if using a non-contact infrared thermometer (NCIT). The FDA describes the following pros and cons to using these devices. The benefits to using a non-contact infrared thermometer include: the reduction of risk of spreading disease since there is no contact between the person and the device, it is easy to use and disinfect, and it is a quick way to measure a person’s temperature. Improper use of NCITs may lead to inaccurate measurements.

The drawbacks to using a non-contact infrared thermometer include that the environment, placement, and clothing may affect the reading. Strictly follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for use for the specific thermometer. Typical use is to monitor the temperature of the forehead by holding the non-contact infrared thermometer perpendicular to the forehead at the distance and time specified in the manufacturer’s instructions. The environment should be draft-free and out of direct sun or heat sources. Environmental temperature should be within the range specified by manufacturer, usually around 60.8-104⁰F (16-40⁰C) and relative humidity below 85 percent. The person being screened should have a clean, dry forehead. Excessive clothing or head covers (headbands, hats, bandanas) could increase the temperature reading and should be removed with ample time to permit the temperature of the forehead to stabilize.

In a recent survey, early childhood education (ECE) providers offered suggestions to address possible issues with the cold weather affecting temperature screening, including:


Storage and Use:

-Store and use thermometer in area that is a constant temperature within manufacturer’s suggested range.

-Carry thermometer in and out when bringing the child to their classroom via the aprons that program provides. 

-Use other different types of thermometers, such as an ear thermometer with probe cover or a digital thermometer with disposable plastic covers, if the non-contact infrared thermometer doesn’t work. (Note that additional disinfection procedures of device may be necessary).

-Some manufacturers suggest aiming the thermometer at the area behind the child’s ear if forehead readings are inaccurate. 

Screening Variations:

-Screen students as they remain in their vehicles for temperature checks and screening questions during daily check-in. Parents exit vehicles and walk child to the entrance after all temperatures are taken for that drop-off group. Drop off times are assigned 10 minutes apart to allow time for this process.

-Take temperatures at the door and then again in the timeframe recommended in the manufacturer’s guidelines. Continue with mid-day scans of the children and staff to monitor temperatures throughout the day and at the end of the day.

-Perform the temperature screening indoors:

-Keep the thermometers inside and allow children to enter a small area that is indoors but outside of the center (i.e. a foyer or empty side room). Permit the children to remove their hat and coat.

-Screen children indoors while parents are still present at drop off. If temperature appears to be off, take temperature again 15 minutes later. The child should remain socially distant and wearing mask during this waiting period.

-Install a double door entry foyer.
Example: During a prior renovation, a program installed a double door entry foyer with a sink just inside the second door. Family members enter the first door, then check the student’s temperature. The adult shows the temperature recorded to the staff member through the glass wall of the second door. Staff member asks the health questions through the glass wall of the second door. Staff member determines whether child can be admitted. If yes, the adult uses the computer pad in between the two glass doors to clock in their student. This triggers door to open and student is admitted to center. The foyer entryway is heated via a small built-in-the-wall, heating unit.

Additional information can be found in "Are infrared thermometers safe?” by Elizabeth Murray, DO, FAAP at HealthyChildren.org, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website for parents

Remember to update your COVID-19 Health and Safety plan if you modify screening practices.

Are you looking for tips and tools to address the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created for early childhood education (ECE) programs? The Pennsylvania Key offers a list of resources to help ECE professionals navigate new guidelines and requirements while continuing to prioritize children’s learning, growth, and development. Resources include announcements from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), webinar recordings, and other key COVID-19 information. Visit the PA Key website to view the resource list.

Nebulizers, Asthma and COVID-19

Do you have children in your care with asthma? Parents/caregivers of children with asthma who use nebulizers should contact their child’s health care provider about using a metered dose inhaler (MDI) instead of a nebulizer. Use of inhalers with spacers instead of nebulizers involves decreased close exposure time during the medication administration. According to The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC), people with asthma should use inhalers with spacers (with or without a face mask, according to each student’s personal treatment plan) instead of nebulizer treatments whenever possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children’s medical records/care plans should be reviewed to see who may require nebulizer treatments. Care plans should be updated as per the health care provider’s recommendations. Guidance for Operating a Childcare Center, Group Home or Family Child Care During the Coronavirus Pandemic in Pennsylvania - The Pennsylvania Key Resource for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages 16-17 offers important guidance to consider and precautions to take.

Increased cleaning and disinfecting is necessary because of the pandemic. Disinfecting products maybe a trigger for some children so care should be taken to prevent exposure to them:

If you have asthma:
    •  Ask an adult without asthma to clean and disinfect surfaces and objects for you.
    •  Stay in another room when cleaners or disinfectants are being used and right after their use.
    •  Use only cleaning products you must use. Some surfaces and objects that are seldom touched may need to be cleaned only with soap and water.
    •  Make a list of the urgent care or health facilities near you that provide nebulizer/asthma treatments. Keep it close to your phone.
    •  If you have an asthma attack, move away from the trigger such as the disinfectant or the area that was disinfected. Follow your Asthma Action Plan. Call 911 for medical emergencies. 10-27-20

 The Pennsylvania Key Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) Program Consultants worked collaboratively to create the social story and tips and resources to support re-entering into Early Education Centers after COVID-19. The social story, We are back in school!, can be used by early childhood education staff as a resource for support social and emotional as children and staff start the process of re-entering the child care setting. Each page in this social story contains Teacher Tips, Prompts, Resources and Activities which can help with discussions with children in child care. There are clickable links and even spots where staff can jot down their own notes! The Tip and Resource Guide provides additional information.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Parenting website has many COVID-19 resources to support families.  These include: Parenting in a Pandemic; Working and Learning; Getting Outside; Masks for Kids; New Baby Challenges; Disinfectant Safety and Breastfeeding.  

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. As scheduled recognition activities and regular life has shifted due to COVID-19, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller, in an April 15, 2020 press release, implores all Pennsylvanians to learn signs of potential abuse or neglect. Mandated reporters are encouraged to use the self-service portal on the Keep Kids Safe website, to avoid long hotline wait times. Other Pennsylvanians seeking to report suspect abuse should make the call to ChildLine. DHS’ ChildLine, a 24/7 hotline for reporting concerns of child abuse or neglect, is available 24/7 to anyone wishing to report child abuse and general child well- being concerns at 1-800-932-0313 and at www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov.

An excellent resource with pertinent information to support families and care givers is the "2019/2020 Prevention Resource Guide". This entirely online updated guide on the federally supported Child Welfare Information Gateway supports working with parents, caregivers and children to prevent child abuse and neglect. The guide describes protective factors that reduce the risk of child maltreatment, as well as strategies and practices for supporting families.

The “2019/2020 Prevention Resource Guide” is designed to help individuals and organizations in every community strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. The Resource Guide focuses on protective factors that build on family strengths to foster healthy child and youth development. It can be used along with the Protective Factors in Practice scenarios and the activity calendars to implement prevention strategies in your community. It includes a directory of national organizations. Access resource guides from previous years to learn how prevention strategies have changed over time.

Download a copy of the “2019/2020 Prevention Resource Guide” today. Share “Tip Sheets for Parents and Caregivers” (in English and in Spanish) -– strength-based tip sheets on specific parenting topics such as page 71, “Dealing with Temper Tantrums”. They can be used in discussions or visits with caregivers, and calendars of activities to help programs, parents, and community partners celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month. 4-22-20

Learn about strategies to manage children with challenging behaviors. Complete ECELS Managing Challenging Behaviors in Young Children Self Learning Module (SLM). This updated online module will help you promote mental health in young children. Explore risk factors for challenging behaviors and use tools to review behaviors related to development. Share resources to help children with challenging behaviors and their families. Identify policies to help prevent suspension and expulsion of children. The per person fee is $15.00 for each module submitted. Addresses Pennsylvania’s Pre-Kindergarten Learning Standards for Early Childhood Standard Areas 16.1-3

To view OCDEL's "Guidance for Child Care Providers Caring for Children of Essential Personnel During COVID-19" 3-25-20 click here.

Use the following to share facts, credible information and updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health Website

Human coronaviruses are a family of viruses that commonly cause mild to moderate illness like the common cold.  A new human coronavirus, called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan City, China in December 2019.  Symptoms of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Use these additional credentialed sources to share information and updates with families and staff:

Stay vigilant about infection control practices in your program to reduce spread of all common illnesses. Implement the daily health check recommended in Caring for Our Children Standard 3.1.1.1.

ECELS Webinar - Immunization Strategies for Success in Early Care and Education Programs - January 16, 2020. View the recording and submit the evaluation form for professional development credit.  Click here for details.

Did you know…
ECELS has valuable tools to help you meet the new STARS Standard LM.2.5 Program uses Caring for Our Children to establish policies and practices regarding care plans for children with special needs, asthma, medical needs, food allergies, and medication administration. 

1. Use Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th Ed. form-field version to adapt a policy for your program.  See Section 10-Health Plan, items E, F, and Appendix X - Medication Administration Packet.  Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th Ed. is consistent with Caring for Our Children, 3rd Ed. online (CFOC3).
2. Use the ECELS Care Plan for Children with Special Needs and Process to Enroll documents.  
3. Use the ECELS Self-Learning Module, Children with Medical and Developmental Special Needs, Inclusive Practices to educate staff about caring for children with special needs,  using care plans and making adaptations. (2 hours credit)

If you have questions about these tools, please send an email with your contact information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sign-up on this website to receive E-Mail Alerts from ECELS about news or key new postings on this website. Click on the orange button on the home page to access this function. In addition, child care health consultants have an opportunity to request access to a password-protected site where ECELS is posting lesson plans for qualified instructors. To access this function, select the role "Health Professional, Child Care Health Consultant, Child Care Health Advocate" at the bottom left of the home page, and then click on the button "Health Consultant Registration" for the log-in request.  3/20