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Addressing The New COVID-19 Regulations

It has been an extremely trying time for childcare during COVID, just as it has been for all other businesses. There are so many opinions about what is right and wrong, who has addressed it properly and not properly- but that's not what we're talking about today. The reality is, no matter how or who, there are going to be downfalls. There are going to be things not done correctly, or things that we may have to do that we don't like in order to hopefully keep others safe. This is unprecedented which means everyone is figuring it out along the way. The only method to use to figure anything out is to use informed trial and error.

We can be the first to admit that when we heard the newest childcare recommendations we felt frustrated. From the beginning, we have been given minimal guidance, even contradicting at times. We have been doing the absolute BEST we can to function as a business as well as support the families we serve. We have struggled through massive supply shortages, loss of clients, loss of staff, adapting new routines and procedures, all while also trying to maintain an environment that fosters proper academic, social-emotional, and physical development for children.

When we heard that staff will be mandated to wear masks as well as many of our children, our immediate reaction was fear for the children. How will they learn properly when they cannot see our facial expressions, they may have to search for who is speaking to them because they cannot see moving mouths, and they may even be uncomfortable with the look of the masks which causes an elevated emotional state making them not available for learning. We feared that keeping our distance means showing less love and compassion which creates mistrust and improper attachment. We feared that we would have an overall negative impact on the children by doing this.

BUT with all that said... We know at the end of the day if this is what it takes to save lives- as extreme or as frustrating or inconvenient as it can seem...It's not worth the possible alternative to go against these guidelines.

We also know that as a business we need to stay open. For the families we serve who need to work, for our staff who need employment, and for our own livelihoods. We created this center because it is our passion and COVID-19 will not stop us. We will meet this obstacle with creativity and problem solving just like we do everyday with our children.

So what can we do? How do we ensure we can still provide a nurturing environment?

Here is our strategy so far:

1. We purchased clear masks. We are hopeful that we can reduce much of the stress (specifically for the infants and waddlers) and fear by being able to continue to show them our entire face.

These are the masks we purchased. They are completely clear and fog resistant. This will ensure children can see our mouths while we talk, sing, and smile at them.

2. We will speak in clear, short sentences in order to reduce muffled sounds and confusion, and to hopefully help children take away the important details of directions.

3. We will continue to use sign language as a means to communicate needs and teach language skills such as at meal times (ie. more, eat, milk, water) and during group playtime (ie. book, read, help) in hopes to continue to enhance the ability for child

Here is a helpful video for simple signs:

4. We are using social stories in order to provide structured conversation regarding COVID-19, Social Distancing, and wearing masks. We are hoping this can help ease the transition and increase awareness and understanding on why we are wearing the masks ( so that hopefully they will more readily keep their masks on). We are doing this through these free printouts we found here, as well as a few videos which I shared below:

5. Practicing a lot of patience and setting clear boundaries regarding the guidelines. This is a HUGE change for the children who aren't used to wearing masks or do not go into public much. Seeing these familiar people with funny/scary things on their faces is hard to cope with when you are little and already struggling with learning how to handle big emotions. So it is our jobs as childcare providers to help them process those emotions, be patient with them and understanding. This has been a huge adjustment for us adults, so we can only imagine what it must be like for them. We are also ensuring to set clear boundaries with the older children who are required to wear masks to ensure proper hygiene.

It has felt like the past few months have dragged on but at some point it will only be a blip in time. It is our jobs to help the children and families we serve to move through this time positively, and we will support them as best as we can within our means.

Thank you to our families for their continuing patience and adherence to all the guidelines and changes.

We appreciate you!!

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