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.
Over the last few months, we have taken the opportunity to 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,
Healthy & 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).
Our school campuses are currently closed to all visitors (except licensing and other inspectors, who wear gloves and masks and keep their visits brief). We have been directed by child care licensing to ask parents to remain outside of the classrooms as well. 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 approximately 10 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, without having to combine with other classes.
The playground equipment is cleaned regularly.
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) are cleaned multiple times a day, and all toys and classroom materials are cleaned throughout the week. 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 small 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.
Each child has an individual set of materials stored in their cubby and available for use throughout the day (including individual containers of playdough, stuffed animals for individual use, etc.).
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.
Recommendations regarding Masks in Early Childhood
Many families want to know if teachers and children will be wearing masks at school or during aftercare. Based on the limited transmission in our community and the extra precautions being taken throughout the day, our local licensing office is not requiring that masks be worn by children or teachers at school and the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group provided an exemption for early childhood programs.
We 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.
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.