It’s more than understandable that parents are concerned about how their children are being kept safe in school and daycare environments during this time of COVID. However, Precious Lambs Early Learning Center also recognizes the value of early learning in shaping young minds and giving little ones the best possible start in their lives. Early Learning programs are continually working with guidance from state and federal health officials with finding Hacks to Keep Your Child Safe in Daycare. They are doing their best to take every precaution needed to keep children safe. Things like limiting the number of kids who spend the day together, screening for symptoms of illness at the door, screening for symptoms throughout the day, continuous hand washing and teachers wearing facial coverings throughout the day while teaching. But what can you do to make sure that your child is kept safe while they are in daycare this year?
Hacks to Keep Your Child Safe in Daycare
These 8 ‘Stay Safe’ Hacks to Keep Your Child Safe in Daycare During COVID will help you and your child feel less anxious when you decide the time is right.
Ensure you know your daycare provider’s hand-washing protocols to help keep children healthy. All staff should be required to practice appropriate hand hygiene not only by washing regularly. They also should be using hand sanitizer and making sure it is available in multiple places throughout the facility.
The key to making this a smooth transition is to ensure that your child is aware of what will be expected of them before they come to daycare. Make sure to practice consistent hand-washing with them at home. Work on getting them into a routine of continual hand washing.
You can even make it fun by practicing their hand-washing skills at home. Sing a familiar song with them that will help your child know how long to wash their hands for. You can even practice your hand washing skills with your child while they are washing their own hands.
2. Child’s Linens and Masks
Ensure with your program provider that your child’s linens are not touching other children’s linens. Ask how linens are being stored and how often they are being sent home for washing? Your center may express to you that you are now required to send in multiple sets of clean linens at the beginning of the week. This is one way to ensure that your child is consistently using clean and sanitized linens while in school.
We know mask-wearing isn’t the most fun practice that kids will need to get used to. But work on getting them excited by playing games with them or talking to them about how their favorite superhero or television/toy character wears a mask to stay safe, too! And the cuter the mask that exhibits a favorite item of theirs, the easier it will be to get them to wear it all day.
3. Read updates and newsletters regularly from your daycare provider
These updates and newsletters are more important now than ever! Your provider will likely be giving regular updates on safety and cleaning procedures. Make sure you are aware of what is expected when it comes to visiting the daycare center, how your child will be tested daily. What would happen if your child needs to be isolated?
These updates will help to keep in touch without the daily face-to-face interactions that have ceased during COVID. Make sure you know about drop-off and pickup times that may now be staggered, how nap mats may be spread out and how your child will be eating meals at the daycare center. Rituals and Events have also changed for children. Newsletters will keep you up to date, not just on procedures but events that may be occurring at the center involving the children. The newsletters will also make you aware of any extra steps that you may need to take so children can participate in the events and celebrations taking place.
Keeping abreast of the newsletters, will also help you remain knowledgeable of new staff members or personnel that your child is affiliated with at your program.
Staying in touch with your daycare provider will be more important than ever. It may leave you feeling a little anxious that you won’t get the face time anymore with your child’s teachers. Many preschools, however, are now doing more virtual tours and are sending more pictures and videos to parents throughout the day. Parents can ask teachers questions through online communication systems, too. Is your child’s daycare utilizing these methods?
4. What Are The Cleaning Policies?
Make sure you are comfortable and familiar with the cleaning policies and ventilation system that your daycare has implemented. Know how often ventilation is maintained and how often the air quality is inspected. You’ll also want to make sure that you know how often toys are cleaned and disinfected, as well.
Feel free to ask whether the ventilation system has recently been inspected. You’ll also want to know if doors and windows are regularly opened to improve indoor circulation, as weather allows.
Because sanitation and disinfection are essential practices for lowering the risk of COVID spread, it’s important to know the policies of your daycare. Has the frequency increased for cleaning? How is your center dealing with toys and items that can’t be easily cleaned, such as stuffed animals, rugs and other things? Ideally, toys will be sanitized more frequently between use. Sensory play items that aren’t easily cleaned regularly (water tables, sandboxes or stuffed animals) may not be permitted at all. Or, your program may have instituted new procedures so that your child can be exposed to these items without sharing it with the other children.
5. What Are The Visiting Policies?
Make sure you are familiar with visiting policies, both for enrolled and non-enrolled families and business visitors. If individuals such as speech or physical therapists come in regularly to work with children at the center, how is this being handled? Are there now more virtual opportunities for these types of therapies? You’ll want to ensure that people coming in and out of the center are limited to avoid the unnecessary spread of COVID. Or your daycare center may be prohibiting visitors altogether.
6. How Are Children and Staff Checked For Symptoms of Illness?
Screening should be provided for COVID symptoms immediately as a child enters the center daily. Also, it should be done when staff comes to work. Pick-up and drop-off times will be staggered and done outside of the daycare. This ensures that staff has the time and space to properly check each child before entering. Temperatures will be checked upon entry and everyone will also be monitored for:
- muscle aches
- sore throats
- new smell and taste disorders
- shortness of breath
- difficulty breathing
Children and staff who are sick or who have tested positive for COVID will be required to stay home. You will also want to ensure that there is a plan in place for isolating the staff member or child with systems until they are able to go back. They should be away from the center for 10-14 days. The local public health department will have specific guidelines that they recommend for these types of cases.
Are you aware of what will have to occur for your daycare center to close indefinitely? Or what the policy is for how they will handle targeting quarantines appropriately? With more rapid-result COVID tests being produced, you may want to see if staff members are being required to get tested.
7. How are Children Being Kept In Smaller Spaces?
For smaller children, social distancing is most important during meal times and nap times by keeping cribs and sleep spaces separate from each other. There may even be clear barriers used between seats at meal times to ensure social distancing is occurring.
You may also want to ensure that there is no playing with other classes during the day. Are age groups are kept separate, where they aren’t interacting with others as much as possible? Is there a specific isolation room set aside for children who may start to feel ill during the day, until a parent can come and get them? Are only specific teachers working in specific rooms with fewer kids in each room? These different strategies will help to minimize risks during the day.
8. How Is The Daycare Limiting the Sharing of Toys and Program Items?
Children should also be using their own supplies, such as crayons or scissors to limit the amount of times shared items would be used. It also is advisable for individual sensory bins to be purchased and put together for each child. That way, larger items of these kinds won’t be able to be limited in sharing.
Sensory bins are invaluable in childhood education. However, by keeping sensory bins individualized, children are still able to reap the benefits of such experiences without worrying about “community play”. Are parents or the program required to provide individual containers for their child to use at the daycare center? These containers can easily be filled with whatever medium teachers are using for the day.
Hopefully, these 8 ‘Stay Safe’ Hacks to Keep Your Child Safe in Daycare During COVID and recommendations will help you and your family ease back into the daycare groove. Everyone will continue to learn and grow as things continually get tweaked along the way. Collaboration between parents and daycare centers, however, are key! Contact us for more information on how Precious Lambs Early Learning Program can put your mind at ease. Also, check out our Virtual Learning program!