illness and communicable conditions


Preventing the spread of communicable disease is a high priority. We follow all requirements and recommendations of the DPH and EEC.

As a childcare center, we must balance the health of the children and staff with sensitivity to the pressures of families’ work commitments. We try to be as flexible as possible within the EEC and DPH guidelines, but are conservative to protect the health of other children in our care.

We ask parents to use good judgment in deciding whether their child is well enough to attend school. We cannot provide care for a child with a diagnosed communicable disease, nor one who is not well enough to participate in a normal active school day. A child who is too sick to go outside or who cannot participate in the group’s activities is usually too sick to be with other children.


First Circle cannot accept a child who has exhibited symptoms of an infectious disease (flu, chicken pox, measles, mumps, hepatitis, conjunctivitis, infectious rash, strep infection) within the previous 24 hours. If a child develops or displays any of the symptoms below while at school, contact the parents and advise them they must come pick up their child. [see the Exclusions from Care chart hung in each classroom].

Mild illness

If a child is mildly ill, has no fever, seems unusually irritable, lethargic, or generally “not themselves,” but shows no other symptoms, consult with Admin. If you inform the parents, you must tell them your plans to accommodate the child’s needs. If they can participate in the daily program, including outside time, they may remain in school.

If the child’s condition worsens or symptoms of contagious illness appear [see Symptoms above], or if the child cannot be cared for by classroom staff, contact the parents to arrange pickup. A child who has been excluded from care may return after a) meeting the requirements below, or b) being evaluated by a healthcare provider and receiving written confirmation that they are not infectious and pose no serious health risk to themself or to other children. Nevertheless, First Circle has the right to make the final decision concerning the inclusion or exclusion of the child from attendance.

Parent pickup

If a child is sick, call the parents as soon as possible, following these guidelines:

Our policy is that parents must pick up their child as quickly as possible (within an hour), unless special circumstances apply (discuss with Administration). If you cannot reach a parent, contact an emergency contact(s) and ask them to pick up the child.

Once you have contacted a parent or their emergency contact:

  1. Let Admin know you have contacted parents to pick up the child.
  2. Make the child comfortable in a quiet area of the classroom or in the office to rest under the supervision of teacher(s) or Admin. Clean and disinfect any toys, blankets, or mats used by an ill child before use by other children.
  3. Complete a Sent Home Sick form and get an Administrator’s signature. Ask the person who picks up to sign the Sent Home Sick form. During your conversation with the parent, update them on the child’s condition at pickup, remind them that to prevent the spread of infection, the child must remain out of school until they have been symptom-free for at least 24 hours without medication. Please refer to the chart below for specifics.
  4. If a child exhibits a symptom listed above on a field trip, contact the parents and, depending on logistics, decide with them whether they should meet their child at First Circle after the bus returns, or drive to the field trip site to pick up their child. Either way, make the child comfortable and keep them apart from other children as much as possible.
  5. Any questions about or exceptions to First Circle policies can only be decided by Administration.

Sent home sick form

If a parent informs you that their child has contracted a communicable disease or serious illness, report it to Administration immediately. As required by the DPH, children with certain contagious, report-worthy diseases must stay home until all danger of contagion has passed.

For any communicable conditions, we will notify the staff in the classroom directly. We will also notify parents by email in the classroom where it occurs with information about the disease and symptoms to watch for. If a child needs to be excluded due to other non-typical communicable disease or for other health reasons, we will contact our Healthcare Consultant or the local Public Health Department, and you will be notified of any further instructions. The child may return to First Circle when approved by the health care provider or DPH.

Head lice

What are lice?

Head lice are a common condition among children, second only to the common cold. About 80 percent of schools across the country have at least 1 outbreak of head lice per year. Preschool and elementary school aged children are most affected, girls more frequently than boys.

Anyone can get head lice. Lice are not due to poor hygiene; in fact, lice prefer clean heads. Lice carry no diseases. However, getting rid of them requires the parent’s vigilance, using treatment with a lice-killing shampoo and manually removing all nits from the hair.

How are lice transmitted?

Lice crawl quickly but do not jump, hop, or fly. Lice pass from one child to another through head-to-head contact. Current research shows that 99% of cases are spread this way. At school, we work to limit head-to-head contact but can’t prevent every instance.

Lice can also spread by sharing of personal articles like hats, towels, brushes, helmets, hair ties, etc. Although First Circle has very few of these items, during a lice outbreak, articles such as dress-up hats should be removed from the classroom until the outbreak is over.

How lice are not transmitted:

Head lice and nits (eggs) are not viable once off the human scalp. As a result, the chances of transmission through clothing, hats, linens, stuffed animals, and sleeping bags is highly unlikely (the remaining 1% of cases). However, as a precautionary measure, during a lice outbreak at First Circle, classroom staff should remove and bag all stuffed animals, dress-up clothes, dolls, and pillows and expose them to high heat.

How do I identify lice?

Lice are small, wingless insects. Their color varies from whitish brown to reddish-brown. Typically, one only sees the nits (eggs) on the hair shaft, not the adults. Nits may be seen as specks glued to the hair shaft, ranging in color from yellow to gray. It’s difficult to see nits without magnification, but they are typically found within a half-inch of the scalp and near the nape of the neck or over the ears. Nits can be confused with dry skin: to tell if it is a nit, flick it or blow on it. If it moves off the hair shaft, it is not a nit.

If we are notified that a child at First Circle has contracted head lice, Administration will notify the classroom(s) and families in the classroom(s) involved via email and provide fact sheets and instructions on how to look for, treat, and remove lice. Once an outbreak occurs, it is common for the other children in the classroom to become infected.

To prevent spreading and re-occurrence, we need you to:

A child or staff member who has contracted lice may return after they have been determined to be nit-free. Daily checking of the child or staff member’s head should occur for 14 days after their return.


First Circle follows the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s HIV Infection/ Aids Policy.

Epidemic illness

As mandated by the Board of Health, if an epidemic illness has been brought into the school and is spreading rapidly and uncontrollably, First Circle may be forced to close its doors to air out the school. In the event of illness believed to be part of an outbreak or disease cluster, First Circle will consult with the local Board of Health to receive further instructions.

We may need to close our program temporarily without notice in the event of an epidemic or pandemic health crisis. We would consult the local and state agencies responding to the emergency when making the decision.

Staff health

Bi-annual physical

We expect all employees to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health so they are able to perform their job responsibilities to the fullest and keep the children in their care healthy. As required by licensing, all employees are responsible for providing documentation of a physical exam every 2 years after the start of employment.


Please keep the Director apprised of any changes to your health, including any communicable diseases, injuries, pregnancy, or illnesses. You will be allowed to work if it is medically safe for you to do so and poses no danger to you, your co-workers, or the children.

In keeping with our Health and Safety Policy, and to protect your health and that of your co-workers, staff who have experienced the following symptoms during the previous 24 hours must be excluded:

Our policy is to make reasonable accommodations for staff that are occasionally ill. Staff members who are chronically ill should re-evaluate their suitability for working in a field where dependability is crucial. (see Job Performance, Attendance/Absences).

All staff must report accidents and injuries at once, no matter how minor, and complete an Incident Form within 48 hours.


Bloodborne Pathogens

Childcare providers can be exposed to bloodborne pathogens when diapering, toileting, feeding, or cleaning up the vomit of children in their care; breaking up fights between children; or if bitten by a child. It’s important that educators become familiar with bloodborne pathogens (diseases transmitted through exposure to infected blood/body fluids that contain infected blood) and how to protect themselves from becoming infected.

To contract a bloodborne disease, blood (or blood-containing body fluids) from an infected person must be introduced directly into your bloodstream through a needle stick, a cut, an opening in your skin, or through mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth. To protect yourself from bloodborne illnesses, follow these simple steps: