Social distancing, a phrase that was hardly ever used pre-COVID-19, is now an essential part of our daily vocabulary and thought-process. To an adult, it is easy to explain, understand, and implement, but what about children? Can they understand the word or even grasp what the concept is?
It is almost time for children to go back to school, but with the COVID-19 pandemic still very much a part of our lives, how are preschool centers going to educate children and stay safe during this outbreak?
How To Ensure Safety At Preschool Centers
Unlike in previous years, schools will not be able to open and simply welcome children back. Before schools can open now, certain steps will need to be followed.
This process involves:
The Planning Phase
The planning phase will first involve teachers and administrators. They will obtain accurate information from relevant legal sources to determine what they will have to put into place before they can legally reopen their doors.
After teachers determine what legally needs to be done, they will then meet with the rest of the school team to brainstorm and set protocols. Every single member of the team will be involved in this process, the teachers, helpers, kitchen staff, administration staff, and any other staff member involved at the school. All will need to fully understand the protocol and their role in it.
The parents will also play an active role before the school can open its doors. They will need to understand what policies have been put in place and what their role will be in the system. It is vital at this time to listen to parents’ concerns and suggestions, as the system will not work effectively without parents’ buy-in.
The Preparation Phase
Depending on what the school has decided to implement, this will be the phase where they will make the changes that need to be made.
- Desks will be moved a safe distance apart and each desk and chair marked with the child’s name.
- The communal area where they gather for story time and activities will be marked with tape or paint, at the regulated distance apart, so that children know where to stand or sit when in that area.
- Corridors and pathways can be marked with tape or arrows so that the children will walk in one direction and not need to cross paths.
- The playground may be marked with boundaries, allowing a limited number of children in each area.
- All surfaces, including light switches, doorknobs or handles, countertops, tables, and chairs will be properly cleaned and appropriately sterilized.
- All toys, games, and equipment will be sterilized. Any toys or equipment that cannot be cleaned daily will be locked away and not used.
- All staff members will be issued with, or have to purchase, the correct protective equipment that will be worn at all times. Depending on the protocol, this equipment may include masks, face shields, plastic aprons, or other protective gear as determined by the head of the school. If daily temperatures are to be taken, the appropriate thermometers will need to be purchased.
- An isolation room, in case a child or staff member becomes ill while at school, will be prepared and marked as such.
- There will be soap, water, or hand-sanitizer readily available.
- A newsletter needs to be sent to all parents, clearly explaining what the process will be once the school re-opens.
The Implementation Phase
When school doors open and children start going back to school, most schools will have a variation of these rules:
- All staff at the school will wear protective gear such as masks at all times.
- Children and staff are not to attend school if they are sick.
- Returning to school will be voluntary.
- Depending on the child’s age, face masks may be required to be worn.
- The arrival and collection times may be staggered to avoid too many people in the area at a time.
- Children who are compromised with conditions like asthma may be seated in the front of the classroom and kept away from other children where possible.
- Class sizes may be reduced to accommodate social distancing.
- All adults and children will have their temperatures taken every day, before entering the premises.
- Parents will be encouraged to drop and go, to limit the amount of contact with teachers and other children.
- Playground play times may also be staggered, to limit the number of children in the area at a time.
- Group activities may be altered or stopped altogether.
- Children will be allocated specific supplies and toys, all of which will be sanitized daily.
- Hand washing and social distancing will be emphasized throughout the day, in age-appropriate ways. The idea is to educate children but not make them fearful. Children may be taught children songs about handwashing, germs, or social distancing, that they can sing and perform actions too. This method teaches children valuable lessons while keeping learning fun.
- Open communication between the teachers and parents will be the only way the system will be able to function safely and effectively.
How Parkland Children’s Academy Stays Safe During A Pandemic
Early learning programs are very important to childhood development, and they don’t need to be interrupted by a pandemic. At Parkland Children’s Academy, we have already put systems in place to ensure child and teacher safety during these challenging times.
- No parents or outsiders have been on the premises since March 10, 2020.
- Each class only has nine children.
- The same teacher teaches the same group every day.
- The floors are mopped every couple of hours.
- All hard toys are sanitized with bleach and water every evening.
- We have hired a company to spray and disinfect our premises.
We are open Monday to Friday from 6 am to 7 pm. Call us today at 954-688-5877 to learn more about our preschool center and how we’re keeping children safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.