Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has issued new guidelines for child care centers to provide more flexibility as parts of the state's economy reopen, though some standards are identical to what had been required previously under "emergency rules."

When the governor ordered on March 23 that child cares had to either operate under the new rules or close, more than 40% of centers in the state shut down.

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Since then, the state's Early Learning Division opened up grant opportunities for the emergency centers out of concern that the rules intended to avoid coronavirus contagion created financially unsustainable situations for the providers.

The new rules, effective May 15, maintain the same child-to-adult ratios as the state mandated for emergency centers, and they continue to prioritize care for the children of essential workers. But in anticipation of more parents leaving home for work in the coming weeks, centers “may also serve all families who return to work in phased reopening.”

The rules also relax the emphasis on “stable cohorts” of children, which required centers to care for the same children each day. That 10-child limit on child cohorts could be logistically difficult and a financial constraint for centers that catered to families who didn't need, or couldn't afford, child care every day.

Under the new rules, centers can consider up to 12 children in a cohort, so long as only 10 are in the center at the same time.

Centers would also be expected to document the comings and goings of families at their centers; they must log the arrivals and departures of children in their care, as well as the adults who are doing drop-off and pick-up. That’s intended “to support contact tracing of cases if necessary,” according to the guidance issued by the governor late Wednesday.

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