SALEM — New state guidelines released recently will ease capacity restrictions and require more masks at child care facilities and early education centers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Child care and early education is essential to healthy development and is also an important support to working families and our state's economic recovery," Oregon Early Learning System Director Miriam Calderon said in releasing the guidelines Friday, Aug. 14.

The new guidelines require all caregivers and other adults to wear masks or shields in the childcare setting. Children in kindergarten and older classrooms also need to be masked up. But children ages 2 and younger should not wear masks.

There are mask exceptions for older kids with medical conditions or disabilities.

The new guidelines ease the original group sizes of no more than 10 since providers and parents complained that childcare became difficult to secure with this restriction. Limited group size meant far fewer child care slots to support families. Also, many providers were under financial strain with reduced group sizes.

The guidelines allowing for increases in group sizes are based on county phases for preschool and school-aged children and the type of child care operation.

The guidelines say children should be gathered in groups that don't change day to day or by activity.

The updated guidelines, which take effect Tuesday, Sept. 1, are posted on the webpage in English and Spanish.

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