TMCC’s E.L. Cord Foundation Child Care Center held its first Town Hall meeting on Friday, May 22 to share the careful planning with parents that will enable the center to re-open on June 1. Master Teacher Keri Meranda, who led the discussion along with TMCC’s Environmental Health and Safety Officer Ben Davis, described the zoom call as one attended by both parents and their children, often seated on their laps.
“The kids...they love us,” said Meranda, who said that many of the children were seeing the faces of their peers and teachers for the first time in months. “It was heart-warming. One little girl asked another child: ‘are you still in the computer?’ I think the children are ready to be back in school.”
New Guidelines for Safety and Sanitization
Yet, the planning process for re-opening the center was no small task. “There is really so much information out there,” said Meranda. “But really the source we relied on the most was the CDC Guidelines for re-opening Child Care.”
Some of these guidelines include (but are not limited to):
- Child care classes that include the same group each day and the same child care providers. There will be the minimum “mixing” among student populations
- Staggering drop-off and arrival times, and limiting access to the Child Care Center
- Emphasis on proper hand-hygiene
- If a child has a high temperature of 100.4 degrees or above, he or she will not be admitted to the facility
- Intensified cleaning and disinfecting protocols
“The big thing is that our staff will be taking children outside to meet their parents at drop-off and pick-up times. Parents won’t be allowed into the center,” said Meranda. Other major changes will include the removal of the “sensory bin” or any other shared items among the children. “Everyone will have their individual toys and snacks. We will also help to teach the Pre-Schoolers what it means to social-distance,” she said.
Planning for the re-opening began in mid-April when an administrative group met every day to review safety and sanitation protocols that would enable the center to reopen without placing children and their families at risk. “We worked and will continue to work very hard to ensure the safety and health of everyone at the Child Care Center,” said Director Diane Nicolet.
The hard work done by the staff at the Child Care Center has been noticed by other college staff as well. “Planning for the reopening of the Child Care Center was done in such a systematic and orderly manner, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the faculty and staff there,” said Davis. “Fortunately, they already attended to business with such a high standard that this kind of contingency planning came easily to them. I am proud to have been able to work with the Child Care Center team on this re-opening. Planning is invaluable, and they planned for success. The faculty and staff at the Child Care Center really have worked hard for this reopening.”
In addition to the guidelines issued by the CDC, the Child Care Center will continue to follow the State and Health Department Licensing guidelines. Additionally, the Child Care Center is not accepting any new families at this time.
What Parents Can Do
Parents who will be bringing their pre-school aged children back to the Child Care Center can help their youngsters with this transition by emphasizing proper handwashing, and how to respectfully implement social distancing—what Meranda calls “How to be together but to maintain your space from others.” And while there are going to be tears on the first few days when children will leave the company of their parents for the first time in months, Meranda believes that once everyone is accustomed to the new schedule, things will run smoothly.
“In some ways, this has been such a blessing for some parents,” she said. “They tell me how wonderful it’s been to watch their children grow and to spend so much time with them.” And yet, it’s very clear: as the economy re-opens and parents return to their workplaces, the Child Care Center and its quality services are definitely needed.
For more information about TMCC’s E.L. Cord Foundation Child Care Center, call 775-674-7515.