COVID-19 ECE Collaborative Executive Summary, 2021/2022

The practice of environmental health plays an important role in reducing the spread of COVID-19, specifically in the areas of sanitation, disinfection, food safety, and indoor air quality. The need for guidance on safer cleaning practices and how to improve indoor air quality is especially necessary in early care and education (ECE) facilities, where many children spend a majority of their active hours during the day and may be at increased risk for exposure to COVID-19 and other environmental health hazards. To meet this challenge and provide coordination around ECErelated guidance in the early days of the pandemic, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) provided support to establish the COVID-19 Early Care and Education Collaborative in mid-2020. The ECE Collaborative, convened by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), served as a forum to bring together key environmental health organizations, each with their own specialization and constituents, to better coordinate activities and messaging during the beginning of the pandemic before vaccinations were available. Convening a broad range of organizations ensured that messaging was both coordinated and tailored to the ECE community including ECE facilities, home-based childcare settings, clinicians and other health care providers, and public health organizations. Collaborative members worked to identify needs and gaps and, in response, developed educational materials, webinars, and trainings on priority topics including safe cleaning, disinfection, food handling, and improving indoor air quality during the early stages of the COVID-19 response. Collaborative members also created tools for engagement and relationship building between ECE facilities and health departments that can be carried on in a post-pandemic environment. This project serves as an example of how collaborative partnerships, utilizing Health in All Policies principles, can be rapidly established and implemented in real time to holistically address public health challenges and protect children’s health. THE COLLABORATIVE SNAPSHOT COVID-19 ECE COLLABORATIVE 4