When will my school reopen?
The date our schools will reopen is dependent on many factors, and these factors are different across states. These include stay-at-home expiration dates, whether childcare is allowed to be open, new operating requirements, the number of families who will attend our schools and other factors. We consider each of these when considering whether to reopen a school and plan to reopen as soon as possible.
How will we be notified that our school is going to reopen, and much notice will we receive?
When we determine that a school will reopen, we will contact you via email and phone to inform you. We hope to be able to notify you up to a week prior to our reopen date, but it may be closer to the reopen date in some instances.
Is it possible you will reopen before the stay-at-home mandate is lifted?
Stay-at-home mandates are one of a number of factors we are considering when determining to re-open. Our decisions will not be made solely based on this consideration.
Can you reopen for essential workers? We are struggling to find care and juggle work schedules.
We want to do everything we can to support our families with first responders, healthcare workers, and other essential employees. In some instances, we have been able to remain open. In other instances, we have not been able to remain open due to other factors such as government mandates, additional requirements, and/or family and staff interest.
How are you making decisions regarding your health and safety protocols?
We are following the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), guidance from our medical advisor, Bishara J. Freij, M.D. and local state childcare licensing authorities. Our company policies are derived from best practices and expert guidance.
What will you do to keep the school safe when you reopen?
Health Screening & Temperature Checks
In order to ensure that our school community stays healthy, we must screen everyone who enters the building. We ask that anyone exhibiting any signs of illness stay home and not enter our school at all. Those who come to the door will be asked a few simple health questions such as:
- Do you have any of the following symptoms? Cough, lethargy, drainage from the eyes or nose, wheezing or shortness of breath, loss of your sense of taste or smell, a recent fever within the past 24 hours, or headache?
- Has any medication been taken (or given to your child) within the past 24 hours?
- Have you had any interaction with anyone known to be COVID-19 positive in the last 14 days? For healthcare professionals, have you interacted with anyone known to be COVID-19 positive within the last 14 days when you were NOT wearing the appropriate personal protective gear?
- Is there anyone in your home showing signs of illness or who have any of the symptoms listed above?
Slightly different or additional questions may be added over time or as required by local licensing and health departments. A member of our staff will also visually inspect for any signs of illness such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tiredness, flushed cheeks, rash, runny nose, etc.
Finally, a member of our staff will take your temperature with a touchless thermometer. Anyone with a fever of 100.4 degrees (F) (or the state mandated screening temperature, if different) will be asked to leave and stay home for 72 hours.
“Curbside” Drop-off and Pick-up
A member of our staff will greet families outside the front entrance where possible or in the lobby/front entrance. After the Health Screening described above, he or she will escort your child to their classroom. Currently, we are requesting that parents do not go beyond the lobby or main entrance to minimize the spread of germs. We understand that this may make for a harder drop off, particularly for the first few days, but hope you agree that this practice will further protect the health and safety of all our children, teachers, and families by limiting the number of people to which your child is exposed. If possible, to further limit exposure, we ask that you identify one parent, guardian or other individual to be the authorized person to always drop-off and pick-up your child. Finally, we recommend that you refrain from having any individual who is at high risk for COVID-19 participate in pick-up or drop-off.
Limited Visitors to the School
For the duration of the current health crisis, we must limit visitors to our school. Classroom visitors will be limited to teachers/school staff and certain pre-approved essential service providers like early intervention specialists and social workers providing services to children and licensing specialists as required. Breastfeeding mothers are welcome, as always, too. These approved visitors will have to successfully clear the Health and Temperature Screenings before entering. Members of our School Support Center team and your school’s Regional Director will visit and support the school virtually for the time being. All vendors and deliveries will not be allowed past the school front lobby.
The CDC and AAP have both issued guidance regarding wearing face coverings in public when there is concern of community spread of COVID-19. Unless required by state, local, or licensing authority to wear them at all times, we require that our staff wear face coverings whenever they are completing health or temperature checks, during close care routines such as diaper changing and/or toileting, food service, bottle feeding, when escorting children to and from their classrooms at drop off and pick up time, and whenever in public areas of our schools. Any administrative staff or teachers who cover breaks will also wear masks at all times when within a classroom. Face coverings should not be used on children if they pose a choking or strangulation hazard, if the child is sleeping, cannot independently put it on or take it off and wash hands, or if wearing the mask causes the child to touch their face more frequently. Therefore, we will not be providing masks for children or requiring that children wear masks, unless directed to by state, local, or licensing authority. We do not feel that masks offer enough potential health benefits to overcome the risks and concerns for children age 4 or younger, but If you would prefer that your school age child (age 5 or older) wear a mask that you will provide for him or her while at school, we are happy to discuss this with you.
Enhanced Cleaning and Sanitizing Protocols
Teachers and school staff will be cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day, paying particular attention to high-touch areas such as doorknobs, toilet flushers, faucets, countertops, phone handles, and tablets. Toys such as sensory bins and sand play will be removed for the time being, and we ask that home toys be left at home. Playground equipment, if in use, will be sanitized between each group of children using it. Toys will be carefully sanitized at the end of every day and all bedding will be kept separate, individually stored, and washed at least weekly. Prior to the school reopening, and then nightly, professional cleaning will be completed using EPA approved disinfecting products.
Let’s face it – it’s not easy to provide a loving and caring environment for children from 6 feet away, nor is it easy for kids to understand social distancing! Despite those challenges we are committed to creating the safest possible childcare environment and will be changing some of our practices to reduce contact and promote safe distancing between children. We will take local and CDC guidance on the maximum number of persons (children and teachers) allowed in one group or classroom into account so you may see smaller class sizes. We will maintain consistent groupings of children and teachers whenever possible to reduce movement around the school and unnecessary exposure to different individuals. At nap time, cots or mats will be arranged so that children are sleeping 6 feet apart and in “head to toe” configurations whenever possible. Only one group at a time will use the playground or any common enrichment areas in the school to reduce contact among groups of children. Unfortunately, we will also have to postpone or reschedule any upcoming community or school events to limit group gatherings.
Meticulous Attention to Hand Hygiene
Everyone who enters the building will have access to hand sanitizer at the entrance and be asked to wash their hands immediately upon arrival into a classroom (teachers will help the children!). Hand washing will also occur before and after preparing food or beverages, before and after eating or handling food or feeding children, before and after administering medication, before and after diapering, after using the toilet or helping a child use the toilet, after coming in contact with any bodily fluid, after handling any school pets, after playing outdoors and of course, after handling any garbage. We will ensure that hand washing procedures are thorough and consistently followed.
Enhanced Exclusion and Isolation Practices
In addition to our general health guidelines and exclusion practices for illness, we will complete a health assessment and temperature check of all students and staff at lunchtime each day. Any symptom related to COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, or lethargy) or fever requires the student or staff member to be symptom and fever free for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medication (acetaminophen or Ibuprofen) before returning to school. Any child who becomes ill during the day will be isolated from other children and will be required to be picked up within one hour of notification. The child’s bedding, toothbrush, and any other personal items will be sent home for cleaning at that time.
What will you do to ensure your school and staff are safe before you reopen?
Prior to reopening our school, we will be performing pre-opening procedures to include professional cleaning and disinfecting as well as a full inspection of the premises for any maintenance needs. Our janitorial providers will continue nightly cleaning procedures that include disinfecting with EPA approved products.
Our staff will be trained on the latest health and safety procedures we have in place to reflect the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as from local, state and federal authorities. These procedures include enhanced cleaning throughout the day, guidance on social distancing strategies with children, and tools for protecting themselves and the children in their care from spreading germs. Staff will adhere to the same health screening and temperature checks as the children in attendance.
If there are cases of COVID-19 at the school after you reopen, what will you do?
In the event that there is a known or suspected case of COVID-19 within our school, we will notify local health officials and follow their guidance. The school will notify families of any cases as well, and share the guidance given by local health officials. The school is prepared to close when necessary to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The duration of closure will be at the guidance of local health officials.
If you reopen but my child doesn’t immediately return, will our spot be held? Will there be a fee to hold our spot?
In some cases, states or licensing regulations are limiting the number of children allowed in the schools to well below the capacity that we were serving prior to the pandemic. Unfortunately, these restrictions may make it difficult to hold your spot after we reopen, so we will work with you on your return date and do our best to accommodate as many families as possible. We will contact you when we know the date that your school will reopen and ask that you let us know your plans for returning to school.
Will we be charged a registration fee when we return?
Annual registration fees are typically charged only once a year in August or September in conjunction with back to school. If you return in the summer and already paid your registration fee you will not be charged again.
Will my spot be held if we paid a deposit and were unable to start because your school was closed?
Yes, your spot will be held if you paid a deposit and were unable to start, although this may be impacted by temporary changes in state requirements that in some cases limit the number of children allowed in the school. When the school reopens you will need to contact the School Director to schedule your new start date.
Will there be an option of day-to-day drop-in instead of full-time enrollment?
Most of our schools will have part-time options for you to consider upon your return. We will not always be able to guarantee that day-to-day drop in spots are available, both because we need to be sure staff are available and because occasional or intermittent attendance is not always compatible with our educational programs.
Do you plan to bring back your teachers? Will they return all at once? Will class size ratios be impacted as you reopen?
Our intent is to bring our teachers back when our families have decided to return to school and when our teachers are comfortable returning themselves. We will follow the state ratio guidelines as well as the CDC childcare guidelines for health, safety and class sizes.
When can I pick up personal items we left at your school?
We will notify you of our reopening date after which we will have your belongings for you when you return to school or you are welcome to make an appointment to collect your belongings if you will not be returning.
If you open and public schools are still closed are you able to offer assistance for my school-age child who is doing distance learning? Does your school have internet access so they can access their coursework?
Unfortunately, our schools are not designed to support a significant number of connected wireless devices and appropriate security. So generally, this isn’t a service that is available.
What are your plans for summer camp? Can we enroll now? Will you still include field trips?
We are currently planning to offer summer camps in areas where our schools are open. This year’s theme is Secret Agent International Spy Adventure 2020. Each week Mr. X will assign a top-secret mission that will take our agents to destinations around the world and develop important super spy skills. This was an extremely popular summer camp program with both children and families when last offered 3 years ago. We are accepting enrollments currently for the upcoming camp. Out of an abundance of caution we will host a variety of engaging in-house field trips instead of offsite field trips this year. Please visit your school’s page for more information on Secret Agent International Spy Adventure 2020.
My child will likely be asked to transition to a new classroom when you reopen. I am nervous about that process with such a long break. Can we postpone that transition until they reacclimate to school?
Classroom transitions will be based on the individual child and spaces available in the classrooms, although we will certainly try to provide as much consistency for children as possible. As we prepare to reopen, we will share transition activities and guidance to support families during the transition back to school. School Directors will connect with families regarding the return to school and discuss individual transition plans.
Will my child return to the same classroom they were in when you closed? Will we have the same teacher?
Though our hope is to return your child to the same classroom with the same teacher and we will strive for as much consistency as possible, this will be decided at an individual school level. Since the children have not been in care for several weeks, in some cases it would be best to transition the child to the next classroom. At the same time, some children will need the consistency of the same classroom and we will do our best to meet each child’s individual needs. Our goal is to eventually have all teachers return to their classrooms.
My public school is closed until the fall. Will you allow my grade school age child to attend?
Absolutely. We are offering summer camp for children in Kindergarten to 12 years of age in most of our schools. Many of our schools also offer a private kindergarten program, which may be a good option for many families in the fall. **See questions above for camp details
If your school is closed and we miss ‘graduation’ will you still hold a graduation ceremony after you reopen?
While we hope the circumstances around COVID-19 will not eliminate the opportunity to celebrate our graduates, we will continue to follow the CDC’s guidance for gatherings until it is revised. Once the CDC guidance has changed, we will discuss whether graduation celebrations are safe and possible on a future date.