Playbook: Destination Reopening

Beginning in early March, many Head Start programs began closing centers and transitioning to distance-learning models to protect the health and safety of the Head Start community as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. During this challenging time—and as Head Start began to reopen childcare programs and look toward the next phase of managing risks from COVID-19—NHSA hosted weekly virtual discussions, dubbed the “Kitchen Table Talk” webinar series.

The Kitchen Table Talks addressed two stated goals from Head Start and Early Head Start programs. First, to share with a larger community of practice information, experiences, and lessons learned from programs with centers that remained open or were in the process of reopening. Second, to identify and share recommended action steps for programs just beginning the journey to reopen childcare programs in the COVID-19 era.

This playbook highlights five of these action steps, lists resources for each action step, and provides a planning template for reopening developed in partnership with Head Start and Early Head Start programs. It encourages programs to engage in the Quality Improvement Cycle in developing reopening plans. The cycle allows programs to anchor actions to the expectation of continuous improvement—one that is needed as we navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 era.

This resource is not intended to provide authoritative health and safety recommendations. Instead, the intent of this playbook is to ignite the thinking for those who are leading efforts to reopen centers following the COVID-19 closings. Use this document in conjunction with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other federal, state, and local agencies and health officials, including the Office of Head Start.


This resource was designed by NHSA’s Destination Reopening Working Group.

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