COVID-19

Current COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

 

Notice of Important Well-Being, Health, Hygiene, and Cleaning Practices

St. Paul’s Preschool

To:  All Families

From:  Laurel Webster, Director

Effective June 1, 2020

The safety and well-being of your child is important to us!  We realize, too, in this uncertain time, it is of great concern to you as parents and caregivers of young children.  We recognize the importance of your entrusting the care of well-being of your young children in our program.  Accordingly, we wanted to make sure that you are aware of all the practices we have implemented in order to keep our program clean and to minimize the spread of germs.  The following list outlines our newly adopted practices:

Business Operations

  • We are not reducing our hours of operation to support staffing availability and needs. Our hours of operation are 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. (morning classes) and 12:30 -3:00 p.m. (afternoon classes).
  • All families and children in our care will have a daily health check and temperature screening during drop off and prior to entering the building.
  • Upon arriving at the program, all staff will have a daily health check and temperature screening prior to entering building.
  • Family members will not be permitted to enter into classrooms.

Classroom/Playground Practices

  • All classrooms will remain separated to reduce the number of children in one area and to reduce the possibility of viral transmission.
  • Large group activities will be eliminated.
  • We will not share equipment and will clean equipment between uses.
  • Time standing in line will be minimized (each child will be given a “spot” to stand or sit while waiting).
  • Staff will have access to antibacterial hand sanitizers and disposable gloves and use them as needed.
  • Staff will wash/scrub their hands and children’s hands frequently at key transition times as this is recommended by the CDC as the most effective measure to reduce the spread of germs:

When arriving for the day

Before and after meals

After toileting/diapering

After being outside

  • We will minimize item sharing among children when possible.
  • We will refrain from sensory or water table activities including play dough unless each child is assigned their own container.
  • The number of toys and other items in the classrooms will be reduced and rotated to permit washing and sanitizing frequently.
  • Soft toys, blankets, dress-up clothing, stuffed animals will be removed for now to make cleaning and sanitizing easier and effective to reduce the spread of germs.
  • Children will not be permitted to bring toys from home.
  • We are increasing the amount of outside time while maintaining required smaller group sizes.
  • Classrooms will stagger outdoor time so only one group is out at a time.

Cleaning

  • Classrooms will have large bins for sanitizing toys at the end of the day.
  • Daily, staff will disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, faucets, toys and games that children play with at least twice daily.
  • Nightly, after all children have left the building, we have implemented more extensive cleaning and disinfection of the entire program.

Communication

  • Families will receive communications on any changes in Family Handbook policies and procedures.
  • The preschool administration will communicate with families via email, telephone, text or other means of communications as needed.
  • It is important for families and staff to communicate often and to be transparent with one another. Please voice concerns or questions you have with Laurel Webster, Director, as soon as possible.
  • If the current situation changes and it becomes necessary to update our policies and procedures or close our program temporarily, we will notify key family contact by email or REMIND text messaging immediately.

Snacks & Service

  • We will not combine groups or classrooms of children during snack time.
  • Staff will allow for a minimum of 3 feet of space between children during snack time (6 feet is preferred).
  • All surfaces will be disinfected before and after snack preparation using EPA-approved disinfectant products.
  • All staff will wash hands before and after snack preparation and serving.
  • Staff will guide and direct children to wash hands before each snack.
  • Snacks should not require heating.
  • Snacks should be kept in the original, unopened package. No homemade snacks please.
  • Teachers will distribute snacks to the children.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Staff will wear masks if required.
  • Children will be expected to wear masks IF required. Children under age 2 will not be permitted to wear masks.  If children are unable to keep from touching or removing masks or if a child is unable to wear a mask due to sensory issues, families and the director will make a joint determination regarding mask use.
  • All staff will have access to PPE should a situation arise in which PPE is necessary.

Staff Training & Wellness

  • All staff will receive training and education on COVID-19 symptoms, infection control, workplace disinfection and preventative measures including practices and procedures.
  • Upon arriving at the program, all staff will answer a Daily Health Questionnaire and have their temperature taken to assure it is within acceptable limits.

We wanted to take this time to communicate all the changes to our practices which have been implemented so that you are aware of all the things we are doing to keep our program clean, minimize the spread of germs and support the health and well-being of children and staff.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to Laurel Webster via email: lwebster@stpaulsumc.com or telephone: 412-486-5591 should you have any question or concern.

Helpful Videos for Children

Play Kids: Cover Your Cough    https://youtu.be/DG4nOr8-UPA

Sesame Street Sneeze Etiquette   https://youtu.be/QW1yodZJpG8

CDC Hand Washing Video  https://youtu.be/qJG72sycQB8

CDC Happy Hand Washing Song    https://youtu.be/kHPQrYthn6M

Elmo Talks to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about Face Masks    https://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2020/04/25/entire-cnn-sesame-street-coronavirus-town-hall-part-2-vpx.cnn

 

Calming Your Child’s Coronavirus Fears

(From Kerry Jamison: Managing Your Child’s Coronavirus Fear-Center for Child Counseling)

World-renowned psychotherapist Dr. Debbie Ellis and expert child therapists from the Center of Child Counseling offer the following advice:  Children learn by example and are most likely to mimic our reactions to most events beyond their experience.  If you panic, they’re likely to panic.  Children are very intuitive. Even if you feel you’re keeping the worst from them, they are picking up your emotions, responses, and attitudes and making up their own stories to explain things.  It’s better to offer information in a calm way that’s age-appropriate.

Empower your children by simply using this scary time to reinforce lifelong, healthy habits.

Hand washing is Key.  Set a good example by always insisting on washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, that’s about the same amount of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday to You” song twice…so use that if you think your kids will find it funny.  The water doesn’t need to be scalding hot, which might discourage kids, so keep it warm and make sure to wash palms, fingers, nails, and the backs of their hands.  If your child does not like to wash their hands or use hand sanitizers, make it fun for them.  Give them a bucket full of soapy warm water and put some toys and cups into it (this is also a great sensory play).  Your can also decorate your hand sanitizer bottle with craft supplies; make it into a funny person or their favorite animal.  Art is always a great family activity.

Sneeze and Cough into Your Folded Elbow.  Explain to your children that they should always sneeze and cough into the fold of their elbow.  This prevents germs getting on your hands which are far more likely to spread them around because we use our hands to touch objects others are also going to touch like doorknobs and shopping carts.  If you have a young child (younger than 2 years) who does not understand this, always carry wipes and hand sanitizer with you. Try to keep young children’s hands out of their mouths.  Instead of chewing on their fingers, they can chew on a healthy snack (frozen fruits are great).

Stay Home When Sick.  Coronavirus resembles other respiratory illnesses.  You should keep your children home from school (and seek medical advice) if they display any symptoms or have trouble with their breathing, especially if they are contagious with a fever, coughing, and sneezing.  These guidelines apply to colds and the “flu” as well as Coronavirus.

Here are some tips for parents on managing media-fueled fear over Coronavirus:

  1. Don’t Panic. Children sense our emotions, even when we try very hard to hide them; children “just know”.  Many of them act out and most of them will develop anxiety from watching their anxious parents’ behaviors.  Stress increases cortisol levels in the body which causes inflammation that can weaken the immune system.  This is true of adults as well as children.
  2. Do Educate & Communicate. Be open with your child; don’t try to hide anything from them because they will find out anyway, whether it’s from a school peer or TV.  Explain that there are many microscopic germs and viruses in this world. If they are old enough to know about colds and the “flu”, explain that Coronavirus is similar to those sicknesses. There are many fun, animated, kid-friendly videos on YouTube about germs, viruses and bacteria. These can be helpful in talking with your child.
  3. Don’t Overreact with Masks and Gloves. You risk traumatizing your child and creating a “germophobe” if you wear unnecessary medical equipment. It’s not only visually scary, especially to very young children, but it promotes heightened anxiety and induces stress.  Overreacting only makes your children feel as if catching the disease is imminent and inevitable and ramps up fear.  Remember, your anxiety perpetuates your child’s anxiety.
  4. Do Moderate Your Language. Try not to use threats like: “If you don’t wash your hands, you are going to get sick!”  That kind of language only increases your child’s anxiety and threats do not work.  Instead, you can say something like: “Let’s wash our hand so we stay healthy.”
  5. Do Use this Opportunity to Promote Healthy Habits. Make sure your child gets enough sleep, eats healthy snacks, gets enough vitamins (especially Vitamin C and D), and has limits on his/her screen time.  Acknowledge the event but avoid bringing on negative or frightening news stories.  Often, exposure to the media only serves to exacerbate fears.  Get your news from reliable sources like the CDC or the World Health Organization.

Always reassure yourself and your children that we cannot control what’s going on out in the world, but we can control our behaviors and emotions and we can focus on positive things and remain calm.