COVID-19 shutdowns and regulations across the country have left childcare operations in a certain amount of flux. In some areas, they are operating at full capacity, others have capacity limits, and still others are only available to healthcare workers. Of course, all of these situations can change with the advent of another wave of infections or development of hot spots.
Outside of childcare, many young people also don’t have the opportunity to attend summer schools, camps, or other summer programming. As farm families face the reality of more children on the farm this summer, the situation warrants a moment to review safety protocols on the farm and the consideration of extra precautions in light of COVID-19’s contagiousness.
The Center for Disease Control offered these recommendations for keeping kids safe this summer on the farm.
- Advise farmworkers to continue sending their children to childcare while they are working at the farm, if possible.
- Establish and enforce policies for farmworkers that restrict children from work sites. If childcare programs and K-12 schools are not open, the work site is not an acceptable alternative.
- Even when homes and work sites overlap, continue to restrict children from the work site.
- If youth farmworkers are hired, ensure you are following labor laws and assigning age-appropriate tasks, including as required by child labor regulations.
- For hired youth, provide extra supervision and guidance, especially highlight protection methods to minimize their exposure to COVID-19.
With these recommendations in mind, the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety outlined a Child/Youth Agricultural Safety Checklist for farms to consider to protect kids.
Those recommendations stretch beyond COVID-19 health precautions highlighting the importance of provision of safe spaces for kids and adequate supervision of those young people that help on the farm.
Farm safety is essential and important every summer, but the complications caused by COVID-19 make the topic especially important this summer.