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What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

  • 1.  What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-15-2020 03:38 PM
    Hey all,
       I work with 4/5 year olds in self directed play based school. Our school went virtual in March of last year and just re-opened for in person last week. I've got 10 kids, most of whom know each other from last year.  We're are part day and outside 100%.  I find myself struggling mightily to put effort into keeping the kids physically distant during play.  It's not how they play. It doesn't seem to me to be appropriate or even possible.  Sure, I can get them to be a part for a little bit, and then the migrate back together a minute or two later.  I find it harmful to the relationships I'm trying to build with them to not allow them to approach me and grab my hand.  I find the notion of preventing them from dumping out a bin of cars or magnatiles or dinosaurs and sorting through them together, showing each other what they've found, trading them back and forth and requiring that each item goes through a thorough cleaning before being exchanged, not only impossible, but probably not the best use of our time.   We wash our hands about 6 times a day in 3 hours minimum.  We have art materials for each student.  They change their masks twice and  wear them as long as they can.  We keep our class separate from other classes so that if one class is infected, it doesn't necessarily mean the whole school will get infected.  We clean everything at the end of the day.  Am I being reasonable?  What are your experiences?

    James Mitchell
    Silver Spring Nursery School
    Takoma Park MD

  • 2.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-15-2020 04:35 PM
    Hi James,

    We feel your pain.  We have remained open since the pandemic hit back in March.  We are a full day program with infants to pre-k, and school age students in the afternoons.  When schools closed back in March the school age students started coming full days and we had around 17 of them.  We normally have about 26.  Early on we implemented many of the CDC emergency guidelines for childcare centers including screenings, reduced class sizes, increased hand washing etc.  Ultimately our State mandated that only staff and students could be in the center, unless there was an emergency so parents now have to drop off and pick up outside the building.  Initially we diligent about trying to keep the students at "safe distances".  Everyone 3 and above is required to wear a mask including staff except when outside or during snacks and meals.  Since March we have only had 4 confirmed cases of Covid 19.  3 staff and one child.  All four were exposed away from the center and found out they had been exposed before they came back to the center.  We have only closed twice for a week each time as over abundance of precaution.

    However, after 7 months, we have not had any other cases develop most likely because we do so much on the front end, before anyone enters the building.  We take temp checks upon arrival and we do not let anyone come in that has any signs of a respiratory issue such as runny noses, cough etc.).  We clean all major touch surfaces once every hour, and the rooms are cleaned daily as well. We send all bedding and pillows home each night for washing and we don't allow anyone to come.  We hand wash multiple times during the day as well as use hand sanitizer.  We have become less zealous about the "social distancing" as that concept is not natural or good for children or people in general.  Our focus is more on hygene and the masks, but it had become a losing battle to try to keep the kids separated.  Our public schools have reopened and we now have after-school students coming back in the afternoon from 6 different elementary schools.  We use the same screening precautions with those students before they are allowed to get on our van.  I If they have a fever or cough we do not pick them up and they have to go back to the front office of the elementary school.  We have 2 students that are doing "full day" virtual learning and both are on different schedules so it is still difficult even with only two students.  Our school district refuses to meet with the childcare centers to come up with a different plan for virtual learning so we don't anticipate that getting better any time soon.

    Of course this has only been our experience and others may be having more or less challenges, however to date, across the country there have been no extreme outbreaks reported in childcare centers since March so I would think that says something about how high or low the risk factors are for children and staff in those programs.

    Best of luck.

    Tim Kaminski

    Tim Kaminski
    Gingerbread Kids Academy
    Richmond TX

  • 3.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-16-2020 06:37 AM
    Well, I guess I'm going to come out and say it. Yes, we take many safety and health measures into consideration, however, we are not pushing social distancing. There are times when there are two children in a center and they play together and times when we are outside and a group of children are doing what they are supposed to!  We need to remember that as long as we do our best, then our day was successful.

    Judith Crowder
    Little JEMS Children's Center
    Croydon PA

  • 4.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-16-2020 09:30 AM

    I just transitioned out of a Director role, but I echo the sentiments below. I feel that if we are doing our due diligence, we cannot enforce social distancing. This is detrimental to our children's social and emotional development. In our state, if one child or teacher tests positive in the classroom the entire classroom must quarantine for 14 days regardless of masks or social distancing. This being the case, I told my teachers to not stress about it because they'd have to quarantine anyways.

    Don't get me started on how awful this pandemic is for our youngest children's development. And I have a 4 month old I just took out of the center because of this.

    Caroline Wood
    Eagle's Nest Children's Center
    Bonaire GA

  • 5.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-16-2020 09:44 AM

    I work for a company that has 10 centers in MN.  When the pandemic first started we had a lot of kids leave so the group sizes were small.  As our numbers went back up we knew that social distancing would be almost impossible.  We added more tables so they can spread out more at meals and cots are spread out further.  For play, we have just let them play.  We have had no cases of COVID- that was shared within the center.  In all of our centers, only two kids have tested positive and the caught it from there mom.  Kids need love and physical contact if we told the kids that run up to you for a hug stop, I can't hug you that it counters everything we are trying to teach them.  We do everything else to stop the spread and have remained successful these past 6 months.

    Brandy Sroga-Coons
    Creative Kids Academy
    Elk River MN

  • 6.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-16-2020 09:54 AM

    I feel that frustration.  It sounds like you are taking every precaution you can.  Our Prek class is very similar (100%outside, low number enrolled) and we have let parents know that the environment is set up so they can social distance but we do not stop them from interacting with each other.

    Some of the kids wear masks, some don't. They ALL wash hands often and we monitor the toys they are using and pull them if they need to be pulled.  We try and have the kids wash before they start a new activity but can't always.  Our parents trust that we are doing the best we can and want the kids to be together which is why they have chosen to return to our program :)

    Shannon Skeens, Director 
    Pleasant Valley Co-op
    Camarillo, CA

  • 7.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-16-2020 12:05 PM
    Hello Scott!
    I am right there with you! I think all of us have to find the place where we make peace with these two disparate challenges: we can't be together and we have to be together. It's the two circles of a Venn diagram that don't overlap and we have to find a way to make them overlap and live in that space.

    I'm an administrator, and I don't want to set up my teachers to feel like failures all day every day. They are not wired to be the hug police. These kids miss playing with each other and they want to be closer together than before. I think it's an instinct kicking in where they gravitate toward each other out of a great need for community and comfort.

    We just have to find ways that are workable for being as safe as possible. We wash our hands all day long. We keep our groups separate. We go outside as much as we can. We have individual sensory and art. But we let the kids play when they are here. We all need it!

    Good luck in finding what feels right for you and feels safe for you too.
    It's a tricky balance these days but you are not alone!

    Nina Burrows
    Preschool Director
    FUMC Preschool
    Fort Worth TX

  • 8.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-16-2020 01:55 PM
    It sounds like you are doing all that you can. It is what it is!

    Diane Vujnich
    Junior Kindergarten Teacher
    Rossman School
    Saint Louis MO

  • 9.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-16-2020 02:21 PM
    I work with a younger age group but we have been open since the end of March. I defined clear ways we could promote distancing such as removing chairs from tables, spreading tables out, restricting the no of children in a stroller or the wagon, and many other ways. But we allow children to get close to us, touch and hold us.They also get close to each other which is part of social learning. We promote hand washing and covering sneezes. Hand washing is before and after meals, after toileting, after playground and other times as needed. Six handwashes in three hours sounds excessive to me.
    When we reopened I had to figure everything out and re-think the situation. The best is to find out what works, what supports the learning you offer and not get over stressed about it.

    Susan Smith
    Heart and Hands Montessori
    Lafayette CO

  • 10.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-17-2020 08:19 AM
    My program serves infants to preschool. Although we did add school agers from Spring Break to the start of school. We have remained open throughout the pandemic. We have implemented all of the CDC guidelines, with the exception of masking the children. Our pediatricians advised us not to mask the children. We have kept our numbers at the recommended 10. We continue to have families drop off at the front door where the children are screened and then staff take them to their classrooms. We have removed all soft materials. Sensory materials are available for individual use only. We are hyper-vigilant about sanitizing and disinfecting toys and surfaces. We have chosen not to push the children to social distance, but staff are social distancing from each other. We serve on a daily basis between 130 and 150 students. We have been Covid-19 free for both staff and children. We are part of a hospital system and serve health care workers. We have had parents and family members that were positive, but have not seen it in our program. We think what we are doing is working well. Under these conditions, we think it is best for the children not to be pushed to social distance. Good luck to you in your work...It is a tough time and we all do what we believe is best for all.  Thank you for your service!

    Donna Kennebeck
    UnityPoint Health
    Des Moines IA

  • 11.  RE: What are your thoughts on distancing/sharing

    Posted 09-20-2020 11:46 PM
    Hello James,

    We did a summer program for 3 weeks and are open now.  The age group is 3-5 year olds.  We have great outdoors and we are outside most of the time.  Children wear masks most of the time inside and outside.  Masks are worn inside almost all the time unless the distancing is great and there are only a very few children are inside (e.g. 2 or 3 waiting for pick up).  Chairs are placed with distancing in mind.
    When we are outside masks are worn when the children are close to each other (e.g. playing together in the sandbox) and more relaxed when the children are more than 6 ft apart.  We encourage time sharing with some toys and other toys are put out individually.  Mask breaks always happen with proper distancing.  Our children got used to very fast to the rule and even remind each other "we are very close, put on your mask".  So far social interactions and playing together are not drastically different than before and new friendships are forming .  Sadly, hugging and hand holding are not happening anymore.

    Katalin Baksa
    int. director of childcare and summer nursery
    Peninsula School
    Palo Alto CA