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Preventing & Managing Communicable (Infectious) Diseases

Health Inspections & Food Permits

Mental Health

Emergency Preparedness

Injury Prevention

Bright by Text

Stay Connected to Austin Public Health

Upcoming Trainings

Preventing & Managing Communicable (Infectious) Diseases 

To learn more about key prevention and management strategies found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Protecting Your Early Care and Education Program from COVID-19 and Other Infections page and for additional resources, please select the topics below:


State of Texas minimum immunization requirements

  • Keep required immunizations records and exemptions for the children enrolled in your program. More information about the minimum immunization requirements for child care facilities can be found on the Department of State Health Services website.

Recommended immunization schedules

Vaccination opportunities

  • Let staff and families know where they can get vaccinated. 
    • Austin Public Health offers immunizations, including COVID-19 and flu vaccines, to children who are uninsured or Medicaid recipients. Services are also available to uninsured adults. Find out more about appointments and Shot for Tots/Big Shots clinics on the APH Immunizations page.
    • Partner with APH to host a vaccine event at your child care program for staff and families. Complete this questionnaire to request to host a pop-up vaccination clinic.
    • To host a vaccine information session, complete this questionnaire. APH health educators will provide information about the safety, efficacy, and benefits of vaccines.
State of Texas reporting requirements

The Texas Administrative Code requires that licensed and registered child care programs report some cases or outbreaks of some communicable/infectious diseases among children and staff to their local health department. Reporting requirements are found in the Texas Notifiable Conditions List and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Communicable Disease Chart for Schools and Child Care Programs.

How to report to Austin Public Health:

Handwashing & respiratory etiquette

Teach children and staff when and how to wash their hands.

Use printable posters to help raise awareness about handwashing.

Teach children and staff how to cover coughs and sneezes.

Sanitizing & disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces are important everyday strategies to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, like COVID-19. Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has information about safe sanitizing & disinfecting practices in the child care setting available on their website, including the downloadable Safe Disinfecting E-toolkit.


Improving ventilation in buildings can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases by reducing the number of virus particles in the air. Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how to improve ventilation in the child care setting, here.

Suggested further reading

American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide, 6th Edition

COVID-19 Operational Guidance & Resources

Preventing illness 

Austin Public Health (APH) encourages child care programs to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning.

According to the CDC, Early Care and Education (ECE) programs in all settings (e.g., center-based, home-based, Head Start, within schools, etc.), “should put in place a core set of infectious disease prevention strategies as part of their normal operations. The addition and layering of COVID-19-specific prevention strategies should be tied to the COVID-19 hospital admission levels and community or setting-specific context, such as availability of resources, health status of students, and age of population served. Enhanced prevention strategies also may be necessary in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the ECE setting.”

For summaries of some of the key COVID-19 specific prevention strategies found in the full CDC operational guidance and for additional resources, please select the topics below:

COVID-19 vaccination

Encourage staff and families to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination.

Let staff and families know where they can get vaccinated. Find location by:

To help promote vaccination, share these CDC web pages with staff and families:

Help raise awareness about vaccination by using social media graphics, posters, videos, and customizable parent letters available from the CDC and APH:

Partner with APH to host a vaccine event at your child care program for staff and families.

  • To host a vaccine information session, complete this questionnaire. APH health educators will provide information about the safety, efficacy, and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and answer questions.
  • To host a pop-up vaccination clinic, complete this questionnaire.

Wearing a face mask over your nose and mouth can help protect you and others from COVID-19. The CDC has information on who should wear a mask, when, and how to get the best fit, here.

Keep in mind that certain groups of people should not wear a mask, including:

  • Children younger than 2 years old.
  • A person with a disability who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the American with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.).
  • Children who are sleeping.
  • Anyone participating in activities where the mask could get wet, like swimming or water play.

When someone has COVID-19

Key actions are found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19: Isolation and Precautions in ECE Programs page. The CDC page includes a downloadable COVID-19 isolation flowchart (pictured below) that early care & education programs may find helpful. It shows the 5-day isolation period and face mask considerations for returning to the program at the end of isolation .

Flowchart to determine when it is recommended that a child return to the child care program if they get COVID-19. Available to download in English and Spanish

For additional resources, please select the topics below:

State of Texas isolation requirements and CDC recommendations for people who have tested positive or have COVID-19 symptoms

Child care programs must exclude children who have COVID-19. Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Communicable Disease Chart for Schools and Child Care Programs describes the symptoms, exclusion, readmission criteria, and more for COVID-19.

CDC’s Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19

Precautions for people who have been exposed

CDC’s What to Do If You Were Exposed to COVID-19

Special considerations for children under 2 Keep in mind that some people may not be able to follow the exposure guidance to wear a face mask around others (e.g., children under age 2). In those situations, other prevention strategies may include:

  • Having anyone able to mask in the classroom wear a mask (teachers, children ages 2 and up, etc.).
  • Increasing outdoor time.
  • Improving ventilation in the classroom.
  • Adding some physical distance during naps, meals, and snacks.
State of Texas COVID-19 reporting requirements

The Texas Administrative Code requires that child care programs report cases of COVID-19 to their local health department. Report COVID-19 cases among children & staff by filling out the APH Child Care & Youth Camps COVID-19 Case Reporting Form

Reporting requirements are found in the Texas Notifiable Conditions List and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Communicable Disease Chart for Schools and Child Care Programs.

State of Texas required notifications to child care community

Programs must notify all parents and Child Care Regulation in writing within 48 hours of becoming aware that a child or employee has contracted COVID-19.

Per the CDC, in child care and school settings, people exposed to someone with COVID-19 are advised to follow recommendations to wear a well-fitting mask and get tested. For this reason, it is best practice to let staff and families know if they or their child have been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19.

APH recommends that child care programs include information on the following topics in notifications to families and staff:

  • Any relevant program policies
  • Latest recommendations for people exposed
  • Latest recommendations on isolation and treatment
  • Testing options in the community
  • Vaccine options in the community

Finding a testing location:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) testing recommendations for different situations can be found on the COVID-19 Testing: What You Need to Know page.

  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should test immediately.
  • If you don’t have symptoms but have been exposed to COVID-19, follow the CDC recommendations here.
  • PCR tests are the “gold standard” for COVID-19 tests. This means they are the most accurate and reliable kind of test. If you receive a negative COVID-19 test result from one PCR test, you can be confident that you probably do not have COVID-19.
  • Positive test results from a rapid antigen test are very accurate and reliable. However, in general, antigen tests are less likely to detect the virus than PCR tests, especially when symptoms are not present. Unlike PCR tests, you would need multiple negative rapid antigen test results to be confident that you do not have COVID-19.


Flu (Influenza) Resources

APH’s Flu in Austin page has information on local flu trends, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

Texas DSHS’s Influenza Information for Schools and Child Care Facilities page has a list of online resources specific to those settings.

Flu vaccination

Flu season begins in October. It is important that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu each year. A flu vaccine offers the best defense against flu and its potentially serious complications and can also reduce the spread of flu to others. 

In children, flu vaccination has been shown to:
•    Reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, and school absences 
•    Reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death 

Flu vaccine information you can share with parents is available on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website, in English and Spanish.

RSV Resources

Share with families everyday preventive measures to limit the spread of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), including washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and staying home when sick. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) RSV in Infants and Young Children page has fact sheets and information about everyday prevention measures, symptoms, severe RSV, RSV in very young infants, and immunizations. 

New RSV shots

This year there are three new immunization tools to reduce RSV and severe symptoms. There is now a vaccine for adults 60 years old and up, a vaccine for pregnant people during weeks 32-36 of pregnancy to protect babies after birth, and a monoclonal antibody shot for infants (nirsevimab). Expectant parents should talk with their healthcare provider about receiving the RSV vaccine (Abrysvo, Pfizer) during pregnancy to protect their infant from severe RSV. The CDC recommends that all infants are protected against RSV through either vaccination of the mother with RSV vaccine during pregnancy or giving the infant nirsevimab after birth. In an October 2023 health advisory about limited supply of nirsevimab, the CDC recommends that parents talk with their healthcare provider about whether nirsevimab is available for their infant.

Mental Health

Many children and youth are struggling with their mental health and need help. In recent years, we have seen big increases in depression, anxiety, and youth thinking about suicide. As a result, the use of suicide hotlines, outpatient psychiatric services, and emergency room visits among children and youth has grown. At parents and caregivers can find resources to support their children – how to spot a mental health issue, how to start the conversation, how to support their own mental health, and how to get help throughout Austin and Travis County.    

Let parents and caregivers know they may visit any APH neighborhood center or Austin Public Library branch to pick up a deck of bilingual (English/Spanish) cards which they can use to begin conversations with a child about mental health. 

Child care programs are encouraged to use the campaign order form to request a set of 50 decks of conversation cards to distribute to parents and teachers. 

Health Inspections & Food Permits

Information about the state health inspection requirement for child care facilities and the inspection fee waiver for high-quality child care programs can be found on the APH Custodial Care Inspection page.

Information about applying for a food permit and the permit fee waiver for high-quality child care programs can be found on the APH Fixed Food Establishments page.


Emergency Preparedness 

Emergency alerts for child care

Through the Warn Central Texas emergency alert system, local officials can contact community members by phone, email, and text during times of disaster or threats to public safety. Travis County child care providers who have not yet done so are invited to fill out this Austin Public Health form to sign up to receive emergency alerts for their program. Providers who have already signed up to be on the Warn Central Texas child care contact list can also use the form to make changes to the contact information previously provided. 

Emergency planning

Programs are required by Texas Child Care Regulation to have an emergency supply kit on hand. Download this APH Emergency Supply Kit Checklist for Child Care Programs to ensure your program's kit contains all the required items. 

For example emergency plans for child care programs, see the Emergency Preparedness Manual created by the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness.

Other emergency planning resources are available from the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center website.

For families

Encourage families and staff to visit the Ready Central Texas website for information about emergency preparedness for families, including family preparedness events, tips for building a family supply kit, and how individuals can sign up for Warn Central Texas emergency alerts.

Other resources to share:


Injury Prevention

Visit APH’s Injury Prevention page to learn more about safe sleep for infants, child passenger safety, bicycle safety, drowning prevention, firearm safety, and more. 

For information about preventing heat-related illness, visit the City of Austin’s Heat Awareness page. 


Bright by Text

APH encourages child care directors and staff to sign up for Bright by Text to receive texts with developmental information, activity ideas, and information on local resources and events for families with young children. Texts are available in English and Spanish and focus on tips and information for the prenatal period through age 8. Please encourage your program’s families to sign up as well!

Bright by Text QR Code


Stay Connected to Austin Public Health 

Email to ask questions regarding communicable diseases or other public health topics. (Note: Please do not report disease cases via email.)

Call 512-972-5555  to contact the Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit regarding communicable diseases. (Note: Instructions for reporting communicable diseases are in the "Preventing & Managing Communicable Diseases" section at the top of this web page.

Want to be added to the APH Child Care and/or the Youth & Summer Camp Email List(s)? APH sends occasional emails with public health updates and resources to child care providers and youth camp programs. Fill out this form to get added to the email list(s).


Upcoming Trainings