Healthy Children, Safe Children
Dear Families & Community Members,
We are all in this together ... working to create a new "normal" for ourselves and our families, and thinking about health and safety more intently than ever before.
I want to start by reassuring you that protecting the health and safety of each child in our care has always been our highest priority. From first aid and CPR training for all staff members, to health policies aligned to national standards, we have always taken steps to protect and nurture your child each day.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken the opportunity to regularly review all of our health and safety policies, enhancing and fine-tuning our daily procedures to ensure that even during these uncertain times, we are fulfilling our promise to families:
Today and everyday, your child will be cared for in an environment that is safe, loving, and healthy.
Wishing each of you well,
Cindy McConnell, M.Ed., NBCT
Founder of First Discoveries
"Today and everyday, we promise that your child will be cared for in an environment that is safe, loving, and healthy."
Health & Safety Measures at
First Discoveries during COVID-19
Daily Health Check
As children arrive, they are warmly greeted by a teacher and their health is assessed:
Parents scan a QR code with their phone and answer a few quick questions about the child and family's health / symptoms.
Temperature check (must be less than 100.4 degrees) available if parent did not check temperature at home
No visible symptoms of contagious illness
Quick and friendly, the daily health check ensures that children are healthy upon arrival. Throughout the day, teachers also observe children and notice any signs of illness. If a child becomes ill at school, the child rests in a supervised isolation area until their family arrives.
Children may not attend school with a fever of 100 degrees or higher, vomiting, diarrhea, unexplained rash, or lethargy (unable to participate in activities at school).
Limited Access to Campus
We are currently limiting access to our campuses to limit possible exposures at our schools.
Licensing and other inspectors visit the school as needed, wearing masks while inside the building.
Therapists (speech, OT, ABA) visit the school to work with specific children. If therapists are vaccinated and families have given permission, we are allowing them to work with those specific children without masks.
If guests are invited for special events, we hold them outdoors when possible.
We have been directed by child care licensing to ask parents to remain outside of the classrooms.
Spend time with your child and teacher outdoors during drop off and pick up times.
Family events will be planned in our outdoor classroom again this year.
Volunteer at school in outdoor area without a mask. If you are volunteering inside the building, please plan to wear a mask even if you are vaccinated.
If you must enter the building, please plan to wear a mask even if you are vaccinated.
Limiting the number of adults in the building reduces everyone's exposure to illness.
Don't worry, though, about staying in touch with your child's teacher! You can send important information in Brightwheel and your teacher will get the message on the classroom tablet. Teachers are also available for phone or Zoom conversations, and they will be sharing lots of information on Brightwheel: photos, notes about meal time, videos and more.
Our campus is closed (just for now) ... but our communication lines will always be open!
Touch-Free Drop Off and Pick UP
Instead of signing in on the school's tablet, you can scan the posted QR code. Be sure to have your phone with you and the Brightwheel app installed and updated! Touching fewer surfaces during the day is an easy way to help to reduce everyone's exposure to any illness!
Small, Stable Groups
Our children are in small, stable groups of 10 to 15 children. Sometimes two groups of children share a classroom and the class is split into two groups, with one group working inside and one group working outside. Children work, play and eat with the same group of friends each day.
Extended Time Outside
We understand the importance of children having extended time to explore and play outside with their peers. Outdoor play allows children to strengthen their muscles, develop social skills, and use problem-solving in innovative ways. We run and climb, work in the garden and explore the world with all our senses.
There is also mounting evidence that sunlight and fresh air present fewer risks for transmitting any illnesses as long as children have enough space and the equipment and materials are kept clean.
Our school campuses have multiple playground areas, allowing each class have extended time outside several times a day.
From exploring in the garden, to reading books, to playing with friends, our outdoor classrooms are the perfect place for each child to grow and explore in a healthy environment!
"Time in nature is not leisure time;
it's an essential investment
in children's health."
The single most important thing anyone can do protect themselves and others from germs and contagious illness is simple and inexpensive:
Wash your hands frequently and wash them well.
We wash our hands, and we help children to thoroughly wash theirs:
when we arrive for the day
before and after sensory play (like individual water play tubs or individual playdough stations)
before and after eating
after toileting or diaper changes
after touching animals
after outside play
after using a tissue or touching any body fluid
We do have hand sanitizer available when needed ... but we prefer to wash with organic soap and water as often as possible!
We spend time each day teaching children the proper way to wash their hands, and we are proud of our "germ-busters!" Have you heard us sing our hand washing song? Or seen our "bubble gloves?"
Clean hands keep everyone healthier!
More Intensive Cleaning and Disinfecting
In addition to our normal daily and weekly cleaning, we are taking extra steps to clean and disinfect our classrooms, common areas, and playgrounds. High-touch surfaces (like door knobs) all toys and classroom materials are cleaned regularly. Toys that have been mouthed are cleaned immediately.
Our commitment to safe cleaning products continues, as always! We avoid using bleach, which can cause or worsen asthma symptoms in children and adults. We use microfibers and organic castille soap to clean, and then we disinfect with a hospital-quality disinfectant that is recommended by organizations such as Eco-Healthy Child Care. Our disinfectant is hydrogen-peroxide based, so it is very effective while being safer for children and staff.
Social Distancing in Early Childhood
Children move, explore and interact all day long. Asking them to stay in a confined space or to not interact with others is neither realistic nor developmentally appropriate.
So, what, then, does "social distancing" look like in early childhood?
We create safe opportunities for children to interact with a group of children and teachers by keeping the group sizes small and stable.
We have rearranged our classrooms, with more space between activities and areas, and fewer chairs at each table.
Smaller group sizes means more space during group activities like circle time.
Planned activities that invite children to interact with each other while still keeping some distancing, including music and movement songs that involve dancing without touching.
Yes, we are still hugging children. Human touch is actually essential for healthy development. Hugs help children feel safe and loved, building a strong foundation for their social and emotional development.
Vaccinations for COVID-19
Vaccinations are an important tool in helping our community recover from the pandemic while protecting the health of our children.
We are strongly recommending that all adults involved in the school, including teachers and other staff members as well as therapists, volunteers, and others who visit the school regularly, be fully immunized to protect the health and safety of children, staff and families.
We recognize that some individuals are not vaccinated due to their own health concerns or for other reasons. We ask that unvaccinated adults wear masks on-site at all times.
We also want families to know that due to protected health information, we can not disclose whether a specific person is fully immunized or not.
"Research has suggested that teacher-child relationships play a significant role in influencing young children's social and emotional development."
The Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning
Masks in Early Childhood Classrooms
Many families want to know if teachers and children will be wearing masks at school or during aftercare.
We understand how serious this virus is and we are committed to the health and safety of our School Family and our community.
We also understand the importance of building relationships with each child in our care, and facial expressions are critical for those relationships. When our teachers smile and laugh with children, they create a felt sense of safety that builds confidence and resilience in children.
We are not requiring staff or children to wear face masks. We are strongly encouraging our staff to be fully vaccinated. Visitors are required to wear masks while in the building.
So, yes, we will be sharing smiles all day long, even as we wash and clean!
We are confident that we can keep your child safe both physically and emotionally while at school.