VMS COVID Measures Implemented

Many parents are very concerned about their child’s safety during this pandemic, as they should be; however, they’re also having to weigh the social and emotional development impact of keeping their child at home, isolated, and the need to get work done.  This is a decision parents must make for themselves, doing what they think is best for their child and their overall family.  I have received many questions from parents about what VMS is doing to keep their child safe.  This blog entry is intended to provide you with that information, too.

As an approved Essential Personnel Child Care (EPCC) provider, VMS has been providing care since June, following CDC guidelines and state mandates.  Through the vigilance of staff and the cooperation and transparency of our students’ families, we have had no confirmed COVID cases at VMS to date (knock on wood!)  Following is how we are providing a safe environment for our children.

  • Group sizes are 12 children with 3 adults covering the span of the day
  • Each classroom is an isolated group; that is, there is no combining classes at any point in the day (outside, nap, daycare, etc.) and staff interact only with their group, thereby limiting exposure.
  • Siblings are placed in the same classroom to limit exposure to students, staff and families.
  • Weather providing, only exterior entrances to the classrooms are used for arriving children and when going outside to play, significantly limiting the use of common spaces.
  • Each child has a clearly defined space with devoted table, chair, work mat and shelf unit with materials she has had lessons on, in addition to an art/craft supplies box.  If she stays for daycare, she also has another shelf unit with toys, games, etc.  Materials are disinfected and swapped out weekly to keep the activities fresh for the children.
  • The children wash hands at all key times: when arriving at school, after bathroom use, before eating, after coming in from outside, anytime they touch bodily fluids and any other time they engage in questionable touching. Hand sanitizer use is not permitted for the children.
  • Bathrooms are disinfected after each use.
  • All disinfectants used are approved by the CDC/EPA for use against COVID-19.
  • Drinking fountains are no longer in use; parents send in bottled water each day.
  • Although they are physically separated, the children may socialize with their neighbors, whom they can see, the same as always.  They choose their activities the same as always, except at shelves only they may access.  We have worked hard to keep this a Montessori experience for the children, and work harder still to provide them with as many opportunities to develop socially as possible.
  • All groups continue to go outside, separately, following our usual schedule, up to four times a day, with weekly nature walks to provide additional fresh air and fresh learning.
  • Nappers do so separated from other groups, with their own group’s staffer. Masks are not used while napping.
  • We’ve had great success with the children wearing their face masks.  So much so, we’re starting to think about times to give them a break, in a safe manner.
    • We’re not holding anyone’s feet to the fire re masks.  The success we’ve had is almost entirely cooperative, the rest is just great modeling from the adults
    • We don’t expect perfection.  Per the CDC’s recommendations, we work within the parameters of the best we can get.
  • Symptom screenings take place each day when the children are dropped off
    • Only one adult drops off/picks up a child, preferably the same adult(s) each day (taking into account possibly one adult for drop-off, another for pick-up)
    • Parent & child wear face masks (we do, too) and bring their own thermometer to record the child’s current temperature.
    • The parent completes a screening form each day at drop-off.
    • Parents are required to inform us if their child, or someone with whom they have come in contact, has symptoms of or is diagnosed with Covid-19. Knowingly failing to do so will result in dismissal.
    • Each child comes to school with at least 2 face coverings, labeled with their name.  Parents are encouraged to start working with their child before beginning school on the proper use of face masks, and keeping it on.  
  • We are using only disposable tableware products; we can still microwave lunch foods as needed. Meals are served to the children in their ‘spaces’ only by staffers to ensure no cross contamination.  Masks are not worn while eating.
  • Each child brings a backpack or other large bag that will be with her in her ‘space’.  Everything in the bag(s) is returned at the end of each day and should be cleaned out and replenished.  The backpack must contain the following:
    • LABELED Spare clothing: shirt, shorts, socks, underwear
    • Lunch (as always, nut free)
    • Bottled water (labeled)
    • Nap items, as applicable, also labeled
  • Parents are not permitted in the school: all drop offs must happen at the gates, or front door if it’s actively raining.
  • Families arriving for drop off/pick up must observe social distancing by leaving at least 6 ft between themselves and the next family.
  • We are required to report any cases (exposure, possible, or confirmed) to the county health department and our licensing specialist.  Depending on the variables, action could range from the child in question quarantining at home to watch for symptoms while we watch the other children for symptoms, to closing a classroom for 15 days if warranted. Because all classrooms are isolated from the others, multi-group closures should be minimal, if at all.

 

This only works if we, families and staff, strictly adhere to the practices recommended by the CDC.  We at VMS are doing our part.  I encourage parents with further questions to contact me.