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Reopening - looking for thoughts

  • 1.  Reopening - looking for thoughts

    Posted 9 days ago

    Hello, our NAEYC accredited center in New Jersey is planning to reopen in late July. We maintain ratios of 1:3 for infants, 1:4 for toddlers,  and 1:6 for preschool. NJ Division of Children and Families is mandating a maximum of 10 children per class. This is only impacting our preschool rooms which normally have an enrollment of 18 children each. NJ has also mandated parents are not allowed entry to the centers as well as the elimination of floaters, as staff must remain with the same group the entire day with no mixing of staff nor children. Our staff currently work 37.5 hour weeks.

    The situations I am wondering if any of you have faced are:

    1. Being unable to accommodate all the children. How are you deciding who can attend and who may have to be turned away if you don't have enough room for all who are interested in attending?
    2. Have you considered staggered days of attendance - for example alternating 3 days / 2 days attendance? Group A comes 3 days this week and Group B comes 2 days that same week, then alternate Group A 2 days, Group B 3 days the following week?
    3. Have you changed staff schedules to accommodate a classroom staff member getting children from the car to the classroom while having staff in the classroom to supervise the children?
    4. How are you handling staggered drop off and pick up times? Are you doing it by classroom? By last name? We may have as many as 15 classrooms.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thank you.



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    Jen Metzger
    Infant/Toddler Program Coordinator
    University N O W Day Nursery
    Princeton New Jersey
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  • 2.  RE: Reopening - looking for thoughts

    Posted 8 days ago

    Hi Jen
    We are very similar it sounds, as we have 15 classrooms currently, and my faculty also work the same hours. We are a large (245 students) Catholic preschool age 1-5, and are blessed with a full enrollment and waitlist. With the new Emergency Regs I was 100 students over for the upcoming school year. We made a lot of temporary adjustments first to maintain as many students as possible.  Since we cannot use common spaces, we are adding 2 temporary classrooms in our indoor playrooms, one for the toddlers and one for the PreK. We are also setting up room dividers in a large classrooms that will allow 8 children on each side, based on the new square footage.

    1. I still will have to cut some students, so I followed our enrollment protocol. Our current students and incoming siblings, current employees (we are part of a campus of elementary, high school and a school of arts), legacies, and then order the contracts were received in the office.

    2. I considered the many options I heard about regarding staggering days, morning and afternoon sessions, etc, but realistically I find that would be extremely challenging for our families, as most of them are dual working parents. Not to mention the added stress on my faculty and our children. 

    3. Our faculty used to come in at 7 or 7:30. We used to have a gathering room for the early morning children and will not be able to do that. We will shift our faculty schedules slightly. Our Floaters will now help with carpool and getting the child to his classroom, where at least one teacher will be there waiting. Carpool is new for us, so that may get tweaked along the way.
    4. We are setting specific carpool window times, and instructing our families they must arrive during those windows.    We are giving them 3 30 minute windows that they can arrive in. If they arrive after the carpool time they will need to call, and we will come out as soon as we can, but they may have to wait, as we may be tied up attending to children. 

    I am still trying to figure out our afterschool program, which runs from 2:30-6 pm. We cannot combine classrooms, as we typically do, but I can't afford to hire teachers for 15 classrooms! We have informed our families that we may have to phase that part in. We are trying to rearrange the children so those staying for afterschool would already be together. Not my ideal setup either!

    All of it's a big headache!

    Hope this is helpful.
    Lisa Houghlin



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    Lisa Houghlin
    Director
    Sacred Heart Preschool
    Louisville KY
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  • 3.  RE: Reopening - looking for thoughts

    Posted 8 days ago
    Hi  Everyone,

    I am curious as to how you are using room dividers in a Pre-K classroom.  I am in a Catholic School in Massachusetts.  We are currently limited to 10 children max per room.  State EEC said that will probably change as we get closer to September.  My Principal wants to use room dividers in our rooms.  My question is how do you use a room divider in a Pre-K classroom?  My current room has almost all the cubbies on one side of the room.  The smart board is only on one side of the room.  The housekeeping and block area is only on one side of the room.  So, one side of the room as all the play centers and the other side has all the tables.  How do you balance the room.  I'm not sure that parents will want their children in a classroom with a five foot room divider down the middle.  Plus how many teachers do you need for the two room you make with a room divider?  Currently my Principal want to only use the lead teacher and the aide for 18 children separated by a room divider.  I think you would need some combination of three adults in that room at least.  Please advise.  I would love to hear how you are setting up your classrooms.  Thanks so much

    Donna Cantera-Davis
    Pre-K4B Teacher
    Our Lady's Academy
    Waltham, MA

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    Donna Cantera-Davis
    Arlington MA
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  • 4.  RE: Reopening - looking for thoughts

    Posted 8 days ago
    Hi Donna,

    I don't know how your guidance is worded but in New Jersey teachers must remain with the same group for the day. Groups also many not mix. I don't know how you can have one teacher and one aide for 18 children. We are not going to use room dividers because it will make the area too small. Our group sizes are also limited to 10 children.That is where our concern of possibly not having enough spaces comes into play.

    Good luck. This isn't easy but early childhood educators are creative and we'll figure it out!


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    Jen Metzger
    Infant/Toddler Program Coordinator
    University N O W Day Nursery
    Princeton New Jersey
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  • 5.  RE: Reopening - looking for thoughts

    Posted 8 days ago
    Hi Donna-

    So, in KY there were guidelines given for using dividers in our Emergency Regulations for reopening.  The divider must be 6 ft tall, stable and cannot be furniture.  You also must still adhere to the proper square footage per child on either side (KY is 35 sf/child).  Our coach said you do not have to duplicate centers on each side, but that you will still have a lesson plan and activities for the whole group for the week.  It could be that one side has the blocks one day, and the other group will have them the next.  We are still contemplating whether to switch the groups every other day, or have them on a side 2 days and then switch the other 3 days.  We have co-teachers in each of our rooms, so i will have 8 students and one of those teachers on each side.  As long as everything is sanitized in between the groups, they can switch or share the centers.  The teachers will still be able to plan as a whole class, but the activities will be done separately as two groups.  They are able to share the bathroom in the classroom, sanitized after each use, but if the bathroom is down the hall, they would have to go with their pod of 10 together.  Luckily, we have 2 bathrooms in those classrooms so each side will have their own.

    I am sure our parents will not find it ideal, but we have communicated the new regulations and the effects that it would have on our program, using dividers, etc.  I am hopeful that they will be so happy to return, and that they have a spot, that they will accept the measures that we have in place to get our children back in a healthy and safe way.

    Hope this helps!
    Lisa

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    Lisa Houghlin
    Director
    Sacred Heart Preschool
    Louisville KY
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  • 6.  RE: Reopening - looking for thoughts

    Posted 7 days ago

    Donna:

    This isn't the ideal situation, of course, but such are the times.  It sounds like you'll need to move things around to create two classrooms.  The MA protocols do count these as two separate classrooms so each will need to have tables, cubbies or alternative, etc.in each one.  Children from 2 rooms can't share space.  I assume you also need 1 certified teacher in each room as adults can't move between classrooms.  I would urge your director to call your licensor for more specific guidance.
    Best of luck!



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    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
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