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A new coronavirus - 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus – that was first detected in China is now spreading worldwide. This virus causes a disease called COVID-19 and can lead to fever, cough and shortness of breath. There are thousands of confirmed cases in a growing number of countries internationally and the virus is now spreading in the United States. There are ongoing investigations to learn more about this virus.

For the latest information, please check the New York State Department of Health web site.

Frequently Asked Questions

NYS Department of Health COVID-19 FAQ
Day Care Providers FAQ (updated)
Local Districts FAQ

General Guidance

Masks and Protective Gear

Options when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in Short Suppy or Not Available

Healthcare entities should continue to submit requests for PPE through their local Office of Emergency Management. New York State continues to fulfill requests for PPE, as available. However, NYSDOH has become aware of instances in which healthcare providers, facilities, or practices are using or considering alternative means to manage PPE shortages…

Use of Cloth Masks in the Workplace

Effective immediately, Office of Children and Family Services staff in occupations that provide direct care or otherwise interact with the public are permitted to wear an N95 respirator or surgical-type face mask in the workplace in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Memo: Use of N95 Masks

Guidance: Use of N95 and Cloth Masks

Use of Cloth Masks in Public

On April 12, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.16. This order directs the use of face coverings by employees interacting with customers or members of the public. Specifically, for all essential businesses or entities, any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct interaction with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees. Child care programs are an essential business and therefore must comply with this directive.

Per the attached guidance, direct interaction “shall include any employee who is routinely within close contact (i.e. six feet or less) with members of the public, including but not limited to customers or clients”.

Effective at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2020 any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.

Interim Guidance on Executive Order 202.17 and 202.18 Requiring Face Coverings in Public During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Cleaning

Congregate Care Settings

Now: Facilities should direct staff to continue performing routine cleaning. High-risk locations warrant cleaning and disinfection on a regular schedule.

If an individual with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 was symptomatic while in a congregate setting: Clean and disinfect throughout the area.

Non-Healthcare Settings Where Individuals Under Movement Restriction for COVID-19 are Staying

Selected travelers and individuals with potential exposure to confirmed COVID-19 cases will be placed under movement restrictions for as long as 14-days. Because facility staff may not be aware which individuals under movement restrictions are asymptomatic or symptomatic, cleaning of areas occupied by an individual under movement restriction should only proceed after consultation with the local health department (LHD).

Primary and Secondary Schools

Now:
Schools should continue performing routine cleaning. Specific routine cleaning. Specific high-risk risk locations warrant cleaning and disinfection at least daily.

If an individual with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 was symptomatic in a school setting:
Cleaning and disinfection throughout the school.

Travel

NYS COVID-19 Travel Advisory

All travelers entering New York from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% test positivity rate, over a seven day rolling average, will be required to quarantine for a period of 14 days consistent with Department of Health regulations for quarantine.

COVID-19 Travel Advisory for Child Care Providers and Caregivers

Based upon Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 205, issued June 25, 2020, all travelers entering New York who have recently traveled within a state with either:

  • a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average; or
  • a testing positivity rate of higher than a 10% over a seven-day rolling average,

will be required to quarantine for a period of 14 days consistent with the Department of Health (DOH) regulations for quarantine. Data used to construct the metrics that determine the designated states from which individuals must quarantine is detailed in the tables posted publicly by all 50 states. Analysis of the metrics will be conducted weekly to determine if travelers from other states qualify.

Interstate Compact on Juveniles Advisory

On June 24, 2020, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 205, requiring individuals traveling to New York from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days, in accordance with guidance issued by the Department of Health, guidance issued by the Department of Health available here. Should a juvenile be traveling from an identified state to New York, the juvenile may be subject to the mandatory 14 day quarantine. Please contact the New York State Interstate Compact Office at 518-473-4512 or visit the Department of Health COVID-19 travel advisory page for a list of states to which the advisory applies.

Guidance by Audience

Employer/Employee

Business Reopening Safety Plan Template

Each business or entity, including those that have been designated as essential under Empire State Development's Essential Business Guidance, must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. A business may fill out this template to fulfill the requirement, or may develop its own Safety Plan.

Employees at Risk

To help prevent spread of COVID-19, procedures and supplies should be in place to encourage proper hand and respiratory hygiene and avoid close contact with people who are sick, and including staying home when you are sick.

Essential/Healthcare Personnel Returning to Work

Public and private sector organizations that provide essential services or functions where personnel are needed to perform critical functions, including infrastructure, public safety, and other essential operations, may allow personnel who were exposed to or are recovering from COVID-19 to work in the workplace setting, if needed to maintain essential operations. Essential services or functions include but are not limited to public health personnel, utility and water operators, skilled manufacturers and supporting supply chains, transportation infrastructure, law enforcement, and emergency response personnel.

Public and Private Employees Returning to Work

This interim guidance is intended to inform employers as restrictions on private and public sector activities are scaled back in different regions of the state throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency. This guidance is not intended for health care or nursing home professionals, which have separate protocols and guidance for staff to return to work.

Travel Precautions

This memorandum is a directive for employees of all State agencies and public authorities to utilize the following precautions while traveling. For travel within the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not limited or recommended canceling or postponing travel as a result of NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19). While traveling, the CDC has recommended following routine precautions, including:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty. It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

Additionally, please be advised that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to countries with Level 3 Health Notices, and cautions against high-risk travelers from traveling to countries with Level 2 Health Notices – listed below. In accordance with this recommendation from the CDC all New York State work-related employee travel to these countries is prohibited until further notice.

  • China
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • South Korea
  • Japan

For more information about travel precautions, including a list of countries of concern, please visit the CDC’s travelers website.

For more on New York State’s response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit the NYS Department of Health coronavirus web site.

Child Care

Please also see guidance under Masks and Protective Gear and Cleaning.

Guidance for Child Care Programs Located in Schools That are in COVID Red, Orange or Yellow Zones

In response to concerns about increases in COVID-19 cases appearing in clusters within communities and regions of New York, Executive Order 202.68 mandated the New York State Department of Health (DOH) determine the areas of the State that require enhanced public health restrictions due to a cluster or clusters of COVID-19 cases. Once identified, DOH will classify the area based on the risk for compromising the States containment of the COVID-19 virus. Severe risk is identified as a “red zone”; moderate risk is identified as an “orange zone”; and precautionary risk is identified as a “yellow zone”.

20-OCFS-ADM-06

The purpose of this Administrative Directive (ADM) is to provide local social services districts (LSSDs) guidance regarding options available to expand the child care services that are provided under the New York State Child Care Block Grant to families affected by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and clarify how such waivers must be administered. Due to the current state of emergency, social distancing guidelines, and the widespread nature of this crisis, all families in New York State are considered to be impacted by the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

20-OCFS-ADM-07

The purpose of this Administrative Directive (ADM) is to inform local social services districts (LSSDs) of the distribution of federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agencies to pay for child care assistance for income eligible essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

20-OCFS-INF-08

The purpose of this Informational Letter (INF) is to reiterate certain important information for child care providers necessary for them to continue operations during the current public health emergency.

Download related forms:

20-OCFS-INF-09

The purpose of this Informational Letter (INF) is to reiterate certain important information for child care providers necessary for them to continue operations during the current public health emergency.

Updated 6/26/2020 - Interim Guidance for Child Care and Day Camp Programs

The DOH interim guidance for child care and day care camp programs during the COVID-19 public health emergency has been updated to read:

  • Responsible Parties must limit groups to 15 or fewer children/campers, excluding employees/staff, in a specific area (e.g. room) at any given time.
  • Responsible Parties must ensure that different stable groups of up to 15 children/campers have no or minimal contact with one another or utilize common spaces at the same time, to the greatest extent possible.

Note: child care programs are still required to follow the staff/child ratios and maximum group sizes as set forth in regulation.

Related Forms

New CDC Supplemental Guidance on Child Care

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted a Supplemental Guide for Child Care. Written in collaboration with the Offices of Child Care and Head Start for a variety of child care settings, this resource provides guidance specific to child care on issues such as:

  • Social distancing;
  • Child pick up and drop off procedures;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of toys and bedding;
  • Safely caring for infants and toddlers; and
  • Food preparation and meal service

In addition, the Guidance document provides numerous links to resources that provide even greater detail, including information regarding children’s risks concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Legally-Exempt Informal Child Care Guidance

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and pursuant to Executive Order 202.5, issued by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on March 18, 2020, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) has been granted the authority to waive certain background checks. This waiver allows legally exempt informal child care providers to enroll without completing the comprehensive background check process, subject to the certain conditions.

Legally-Exempt Informal Child Care Guidance: May 18 CC Guidance PDF

Schools (Pre-K to 12)

NYSDOH and NYSED are providing this guidance to update schools on next steps needed to respond to the COVID- 19 outbreak as well as recommend non-pharmaceutical interventions and community containment measures that reduce disease transmission in the community, including schools.

LDSS and Voluntary Agencies

Please also see guidance under Masks and Protective Gear and Cleaning.

Visitation to Congregate Care Settings in the Red and Orange Zones
Adult Protective Services Staff

Protocols for Adult Protective Services staff conducting investigations. Specific guidance and protocols on remote assessments, scheduling home visits, clients/contacts displaying symptoms and denial of home entry due to concerns of COVID-19 exposure.

Background Check Requirements for Staff of OCFS-Licensed Certified Residential Programs For Youth

The background check process required of residential programs for youth licensed or certified by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), has been temporarily modified. This guidance is for all OCFS licensed and certified residential programs for youth, whose staff are subject to criminal background checks conducted by the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs.

CFTSS Telehealth

In response to concerns relating to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the NYS DOH has authorized designated Children and Family Treatment and Support Services (CFTSS) to be provided via telehealth or telephonically whenever clinically appropriate to properly care for the patient. This temporary waiver will remain in effect until it is rescinded by the Department of Health.

Child Protective Services Staff

Protocols for Child Protective Services staff conducting investigations. Specific guidance and protocols on remote assessments, scheduling home visits, client/contacts displaying symptoms, denial of home entry dues to concerns of COVID-19 exposure and removal of children exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19.

CONNECTIONS Guidelines: Delayed Permanency Planning Hearings
Domestic Violence Residential Programs: Requesting a Waiver to the Maximum Length of Stay

On March 27, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.11, allowing domestic violence (DV) residential programs to continue to serve victims of domestic violence who need to exceed the maximum length of stay for residential programs.

Fire Drills

During the COVID‐19 crisis, the temporary interpretation will allow for staff and youth to discuss the program’s fire drill procedures and log this conversation in place of what would normally be a full drill. When the crisis is over, programs will be required to resume full fire drills.

Foster Care and Preventive Staff

Protocols for Foster Care and Preventive staff conducting casework contacts. Specific guidance and protocols on remote case work contacts, scheduling casework contacts, parents/caregivers/household members displaying symptoms, movement of children diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, enhanced supports for parents/caregivers and visitation.

Foster Care Agency and Detention Programs - Youth Supervision

This guidance allows for temporary adjustments in staffing patterns and training requirements to meet the needs of the program. Any temporary policy revisions and local practice adjustments sought under this guidance are to address exigent circumstances, and must continue to meet the needs of the youth in your programs and not jeopardize the safety of youth and staff.

Download related forms and documents:

Foster Parent Certification and Reauthorization Guidance

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, OCFS has developed this guidance to assist local departments of social services and voluntary agencies in completing new foster parent certification and annual reauthorizations for certified or approved foster boarding homes. This guidance is effective for the duration of the emergency, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Health Care Providers and Local Health Departments

Appropriate and efficient standards for testing are an essential component of a multilayered strategy to prevent sustained spread of COVID-19 in New York State and to ensure resources are being efficiently distributed. Testing capacity for COVID-19 in New York State is being increased on a daily basis. However, until such time as we are at full capacity, this guidance is necessary to ensure that New York State prioritizes the resources to meet the most urgent public health need.

Availability of Waivers and Suspensions of the HOME Program Requirements

The suspensions and waivers provided in this memorandum will allow PJs to use HOME funds for TBRA to individuals and families experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 1) providing immediate rental assistance to individuals and families seeking housing, 2) assisting households that have housing but face reduced or lost wages, and 3) assisting existing TBRA families that need additional assistance due to reduced or lost wages.

Suspensions and Waivers to Facilitate Use of HOME-Assisted Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA)

The suspensions and waivers provided in this memorandum will allow PJs to use HOME funds for TBRA to individuals and families experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 1) providing immediate rental assistance to individuals and families seeking housing, 2) assisting households that have housing but face reduced or lost wages, and 3) assisting existing TBRA families that need additional assistance due to reduced or lost wages.

Homeless and Supportive Housing: Operators / Referring Organizations

Congregate facilities, such as shelters for individuals experiencing homelessness, are especially at risk for the spread of communicable diseases due to the number of individuals living in close proximity. Facility operators must take steps to minimize the risk of an outbreak of COVID-19. Please review this information with your program’s leadership and staff and make necessary adjustments to your program policies and protocols.

Isolation or Quarantine

The following guidance for residential programs and domestic violence shelters licensed or certified by OCFS is based on the most current CDC and DOH recommendations for prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus of 2019 disease (COVID-19) and the management of Persons Under Investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. Specific guidance for isolation or quarantine protocol, including required notification, is documented.

Residential Programs for Youth - Youth and Family Visition

This guidance is intended to build on and refine the guidance provided on March 20, 2020 regarding visitation with parents and siblings. Previous OCFS guidance provided Foster Care and Preventive Staff direction related to youth and family visitation during the COVID-19 public health emergency. That guidance, while not restricting nor relaxing any of the relevant regulatory/statutory requirements related to youth and family visitations, provided for alternate means of such visitation including virtual platforms. This guidance was aimed to safeguard and maintain the health and wellbeing of youth, families, and staff while containing the spread of COVID-19 during the State’s initial phase of the pandemic. After the successful efforts by New Yorkers to flatten the curve and reduce virus transmission, OCFS recognizes the need for youth and families to begin resuming other types of contact with one another in a planful manner, as safely as possible. Below are some considerations when planning for contacts and visits with family who will be physically present with the child in care.

  • Guidance for Counties and Residential Programs for Youth Licensed by NYS Office of Children and Family Services Division of Child Welfare and Community Services
    English: PDF Guidance for Youth Program - July 15
Respite Services: Guidance for 1915(c) Children's Waiver

As outlined in the Guidance for Home and Community–Based Services (HCBS) Providers Serving Children/Youth Under the 1915(c) Children´s Waiver Related to COVID–19, if a waiver participant chooses not to have a face-to-face meeting or a determination is made that a face-to-face meeting is not appropriate during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Respite provider may deliver the service remotely following telehealth guidance.

Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) - Regulatory Relief

Due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, programs may need to take extra precautions and make unique exceptions to best protect the health and safety of youth in their care and community.

Tuberculosis Testing, Changes in Regulatory Requirements

Guidance for Local Department of Social Services and Voluntary Authorized Agencies Regarding Changes in Regulatory Requirements for Tuberculosis Testing.

Visitor Screening for Community-Based Visits

Be sure to ask all clients or applicable family members the following 3 questions: Have you traveled to a country for which the CDC has issued a Level 2 or 3 travel designation within the last 14 days?; Have you had contact with any Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, OR with anyone with known COVID-19?; and Do you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection?

Visitor Screening for Residential Programs

The following guidance is based on the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NYS Department of Health (DOH) recommendations for prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) and the management of Persons Under Investigation (PUI). Specific additional guidance for residential programs is also included.

Parents

Guidance for Parents

In recent weeks, OCFS has shared information with child care programs regarding ways to respond to novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This document contains important information and resources to assist parents who are looking for child care.

Planning for Your Children in Case of Hospitalization or Quarantine

What you can do as a parent to plan for your children in case you and your partner are quarantined or hospitalized due to COVID-19 related concerns

It may be challenging for both you and your child should they need to be separated from you due to quarantine or hospitalization as a result of COVID-19 related concerns. Such separation, and the anxiety you will both feel, can be lessened by taking some steps ahead of time. Most importantly, you want to make sure your child or children will be well cared for during any period where you are unable to care for them yourself. As a parent you are allowed, by law, to designate another individual or individuals to care for your child in such situations. The form to complete in that circumstance is OCFS Form 4940. Instructions are included at the end of the form.

Information you should have on hand for yourself or other designated caregiver

Start thinking about how to keep track of important documents that you would like to access or have others access in your absence. Important documents could include:

  • Parental designation form
  • Court orders/Custody Orders
  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Medical records (appointments, prescriptions, immunizations, etc.)
  • School records
  • Insurance records
  • Social Security information

Other Resources

COVID Information

Federal Resources

Help for Parents

Resources for the Blind

How You Can Help