Additional Guidelines During COVID-19 Pandemic

September 1, 2020

The following additions to our Parent Handbook have been developed in accordance with the Minimum Guidance for Reopening Standards from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care and align with the guidance from the Center for Disease Control.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 we will be implementing the following social distancing guidelines that are appropriate for the age of the children we serve.

  • Our class sizes will maintain a maximum of 10 children for our largest groups.  (9 for our Toddlers and Three-Year-Olds)
  • Each morning classroom will operate independently as much as possible to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission between groups.  Children who stay for the afternoon may experience comingling of groups if necessary.
  • We will minimize the sharing of teachers between classroom cohorts to the best of our ability.  However, there may be times when a “floating” teacher is utilized to ensure that we have the needed supervision for the children.
  • We will utilize our outdoor spaces as much as possible throughout the day while still keeping distinct groups apart.
  • We will minimize the sharing of any common play spaces to the extent possible.  When spaces must be shared, we will utilize additional cleaning protocols between each group’s uses.
  • Children over 2 will be encouraged to wear masks.  Mask breaks will be allowed as needed, and when children are sufficiently apart.
  • Teachers will wear masks throughout the day, and always when in close contact with a child.  We will build in strategies to help children feel comfortable with this new normal.
  • We will design our classroom spaces to allow for children to spread out as they naturally play, but we will not forbid children to play together.
  •  We will design our transitions between spaces to minimize the interaction between multiple groups in hallways and exits.
  • Some high touch items that are difficult to disinfect, such as sensory materials and art supplies, will be allocated to each child’s personal supply which he/she can freely use.
  • For children who sleep at school, rest mats will be placed so that children’s heads are 6 feet apart.  Masks will not be worn while sleeping.
  • When teachers are assisting with any toileting needs, they will utilize additional PPE such as smocks and gloves.
  • Staff will have additional training in maintaining safe environments and reducing the transmission of disease.

CLEANING AND DISINFECTING

The following steps reflect an enhancement to our already thorough cleaning procedures.

  • All children and teachers will wash their hands frequently throughout the day, and especially during these times:  upon arrival, before and after eating, after playing outside, anytime they have contact with any bodily fluids, and before and after using the bathroom.
  • When handwashing is not immediately available yet warranted, teachers will supervise the use of hand sanitizer with the children.
  • Throughout the day, teachers will implement routines that involve the frequent cleaning and sanitizing of these items:  classroom toys, tables and chairs, sink areas, and doorknobs.  Toilets and faucet handles will be sanitized after each use.
  • We will disinfect surfaces with a solution of 4 tsp. bleach per quart of water, or other EPA approved disinfectant.
  • We will limit the use of fabric items or items that children may be likely to mouth.
  • Every evening our professional cleaning company will do a thorough job of disinfecting all the classrooms and bathrooms.

CONNECTING WITH FAMILIES:  drop off and pick up

We want you and your child to feel welcomed each morning.  Our new procedures may feel different than before, but we know that in time the relationships we develop will make these plans work well.

  • We will be offering an Orientation experience as well as resources for preparing your child to come back to school prior to the start of the session.  Specific details will be shared by your child’s teacher in August.
  • Teachers will communicate with parents through weekly general notes.  These notes will be filled with pictures and details about the curriculum.  Individual feedback about your child from your teacher will happen by phone as needed.  Your Program Director will also be available to discuss your child’s development and Zoom conferences can be arranged. 
  • Each morning we will ask you to reply to our google.doc attesting that your child has not shown any signs of illness nor has he/she been directly exposed to anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.  This document must be received daily before your child can be admitted to school.  No exceptions will be made.
  • Parents will wear masks at drop-off and pick-up.  Parents will not be entering the building on a normal basis.  If your child requires additional support to have a positive transition, your child’s teacher will work with you to develop an effective plan.
  • Upon arrival at school, a staff person will greet you and conduct a friendly visual confirmation that your child appears to be healthy.  A teacher will then escort your child inside.
  • Your child’s teacher will describe the exact details of the check-in and drop-off procedure for their group so that you can prepare your child in advance.  We will create a plan that allows for distancing between families and reduces waiting as much as possible.
  • Pick-up times will be staggered according to the schedule you signed up for.  We will have a teacher available to bring your child to the closest door to meet you for dismissal.
  • We ask that you stay 6 feet apart from other families during these transitions.  We will do our best to try to make this process as supportive and efficient as we can, but we know that there will be times where waiting is inevitable.  We appreciate your patience.

HOW PARENTS WILL HELP:  before and after school

We will be very grateful for the cooperation of our families as we work to keep everyone safe and keep our doors open.

  • Families will assess their child’s health before coming to school and send a daily electronic attestation to this assessment.  Any child who is showing the following signs of illness will be kept home:
    • Fever(100.00 F or above), felt feverish, or had chills
    • Cough
    • Sore Throat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting)
    • New loss of taste/smell
    • New muscle aches
    • Close contact with a person known to have COVID-19.
  • Parents will dress their child in freshly cleaned clothes each day they attend school and provide us with two changes of clothes to keep at school if needed.
  • Parents will provide a daily supply of clean masks for every child over 2 years old.  Masks must fit securely over the child’s nose and mouth.  Bandanas, gaiters, and masks with valves are not allowed.
  • We encourage you to schedule your child’s bath time for immediately after school.
  • We urge parents to speak with your pediatrician about getting a flu vaccine this year.
  • Parents will disinfect lunch boxes daily or send their child with a disposable lunch bag.
  • If a child needs to bring a “lovie” to school, parents will disinfect it each day after school.  However, we recommend having a school-based “lovie” that “lives at school” to make this process easier if needed.  We ask that no unessential toys from home come to school.
  • We ask that you provide a pair of school shoes or slippers that your child can change into upon arrival in the classroom.
  • Parents will commit to following the current Massachusetts guidelines for Social Distancing as a family.

OTHER HEALTH AND SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS

  • Outside visitors will not be permitted in the building, with the exception of individuals needing access to perform building maintenance or repairs.  We will try to schedule these services outside of school hours as much as possible and will keep children and teachers apart from these workers at all times.  If you employ anyone outside your home to transport your child to/from school, that person must remain outside the building during the transition.
  • Children who are at high-risk for respiratory issues or other health vulnerabilities must have a written Individualized Health Care Plan from their healthcare provider to attend.
  • Children who develop any symptoms of illness at school will be immediately isolated from their group and parents will be called to pick up as soon as possible.  We will then consult with your pediatrician, our Health Care Consultant, and/or our local Board of Health for specific guidance regarding re-entry to school.
  • If a child or teacher is found to have COVID-19, we will follow the current guidance of the Board of Health regarding exclusions or closures.  These are the guidelines we have been given at the time of this writing:
    • Anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or who was directly exposed to a confirmed case, must self-quarantine for 14 days.
    • Exposure is defined as 10 minutes or more of contact within 6 ft. of distance from the sick person within the two days prior to symptom onset up to the date of confirmed recovery.
    • A negative COVID test or a positive antibody test of an exposed person has no impact on the quarantine timeline.
    • If a parent has a confirmed case and the child tests negative then only that family needs to quarantine as long as the parent has not entered our building.
    • Before a person with a confirmed case can leave quarantine they must get clearance from the Board of Health in the town where they live.
    • Travel restrictions are in constant flux due to the severity of outbreaks in different regions.  Parents are responsible for informing themselves of the current restrictions if they chose to travel.  Travel to regions with high incidents of transmission requires a self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.  If a parent who has traveled alone to one of these areas cannot quarantine from their child upon return, then the child must quarantine with the parent plus an additional 14 days after (28 days total). If a parent knowingly engages in behavior that is not in compliance with the recommended quarantine guidelines determined by the state, they assume full responsibility for tuition during their child’s quarantine. If a child needs to quarantine due to possible exposure under any circumstance, parents are responsible for tuition during the time child is quarantined.
    • Updated information regarding our complete billing policies during the pandemic is provided separately.

 

As more is being learned about this virus and its transmission we reserve the right to modify these plans in consultation with the Board of Health or the Department of Early Education and care.