COVID-19 Re-Opening Plans and Procedures
NEWS: Little Bucs received an official letter from the Association of Infant Mental
Health in TN (AIMHiTN) (10/29/2020). Congratulations, LB!!!
The impact of the COVID-19 virus has led to necessary changes in how Little Buccaneers will operate. New policies and procedures will be implemented to ensure the maximum level of safety that can be afforded for the children, families, and staff of the program. All changes to program policies and procedures will be in place until the threat of COVID-19 is either eliminated or has been mitigated to an acceptable standard determined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), State and Local agencies, and ETSU guidelines. The following policies and procedures are subject to change based on new recommendations from the above agencies. Upon determination that the threat of COVID-19 has been eliminated or mitigated to an acceptable standard, the policies and procedures detailed in this document will be reviewed and revised to provide for new guidelines.
Letter to the Little Bucs Families
Opening determination will be made in combination with State and Local guidelines and recommendations, University level decisions on reopening found at https://www.etsu.edu/coronavirus, and with CDC reopening guidelines for child care center found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/child-care-decision-tool.html.
- At least three weeks prior to a reopening date, teachers and administration will begin preparations in the center to prepare for new classroom arrangements and training on new policies and procedures. This also includes creating new detailed daily schedules for each classroom to accommodate for staggered times on playgrounds, in bathrooms, and hallways.
- In the three-week preparation prior to opening, teachers will contact families to arrange times to meet via Zoom conference calling. The teachers will use this time to talk to the children and demonstrate new classroom routines in relation to COVID-19 (teachers with masks, handwashing, temperature checks). The parents will also be given appropriate tips and suggestions for ways to prepare their child for the changes that will be put into place. Zoom meetings with parents will be conducted to inform of new guidelines and procedures for the upcoming semester.
- Week Three (August 17th-August 21st): The center will launch a graduated reopening process with staggered enrollment of children to help transition families and children back into the center under the new guidelines detailed in this document. Children will not be scheduled on Friday of this week in order to thoroughly evaluate the processes and make changes if necessary. Your child’s teacher will contact you to set up an individual schedule for this week.
- Week Four (August 24th): The center will open fully using any new scheduling put in place and having adopted all necessary procedures.
- ETSU's re-opening plans reflect an altered schedule for the Fall 2020 semester. The revised schedule indicates classes will go online after Fall/Thanksgiving break. We are considering offering care this week (November 30th - December 4th) in order for families to prepare for exams. We will evaluate the COVID-19 numbers in our community and work with ETSU leadership to make this decision later in the semester. Due to the uncertainty of this schedule, we will not include this week in the semester contract. If we are able to offer care and families choose to bring their child, we will bill the family for time used during the extra week.
Personnel and Staff Structure
- The center will be open only for full-time staff members, graduate assistants, and the possibility of student assistants if deemed appropriate and necessary. No visitors, observers, or volunteers will be allowed in the center. Those with legal authority to enter, including law enforcement officers, childcare licensing staff, and Child Protective Services staff will be allowed to enter, as well as those offering services to enrolled children. Breast feeding mothers will be allowed access to the building, subject to health screening. Any scheduled visitor will be subjected to health screening. This is in accordance with Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Guidance for Childcare Providers document.
- The Director and Executive Aide will alternate roles of additional cleaning as needed by the teachers and will operate new protocols for the arrival and departure procedures for children and families.
- All full-time staff, graduate assistants, and any student assistants who are actively working will voluntarily refrain from traveling outside of the United States until recommendations from CDC, ETSU, and State and Local guidelines state clearance otherwise. ETSU University related travel restrictions can be found at https://www.etsu.edu/coronavirus/facstaff/
- All staff members will be subjected to health screenings each morning, checking for fever and symptoms of the virus. Persons who have a fever of 100.4° F (38°C) or above or other signs of illness should not be admitted to the facility. Encourage parents to be on the alert for signs of illness in their children and to keep them home when they are sick. Screen staff and children upon arrival, if possible. (DHS Guidance for Childcare Providers)
- Any staff member who presents with a fever or symptoms will be excluded from the center until they are able to be cleared for return to work using CDC guidelines for quarantine and isolation found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine-isolation.html
- If a full-time staff member shows signs of illness or has been exposed to the virus and cannot work but it is determined that the class and other teachers have not been exposed, an administrator will enter the classroom until the time when the aforementioned teacher can safely return to work.
- If a classroom has been exposed to the virus through contact with a staff member or child who is showing distinct symptoms of the virus, the room will be closed for 2-5 days or until local health officials can make determinations if an extended closure of the classroom or program is deemed necessary, by recommendation of the CDC.
- When arriving to the center for work, staff will remove shoes from home herein called “home shoes”, place in a designated area for storage (likely staff’s office space) and will change into designated shoes “school shoes” that are to be left in the building at the end of the day. The staff will wear their designated school shoes at all time while in the building or on the playground. If the staff chooses to leave the building for breaks, the staff member will change back into her home shoes before leaving. All staff members will sanitize school shoes at the end of the day using bleach and water solution. Similar plan for children is outlined below under Family and Child Guidelines.
- Staff members will alternate break times during the designated rest time in the room, guaranteeing a minimum of a 1-hour break for each full-time teacher, and a 30-minute break for each assistant working shifts of 6 or more continuous hours.
- All staff members will have at least one change of clothes per day available for if clothing becomes soiled by contaminants. Infants, toddlers, and their providers should have multiple changes of clothes on hand in the childcare center or home-based child care. (Centers for Disease Control)
- No more than two staff members will congregate in shared areas at any given time, including office space, kitchen area, and laundry area.
- Staff will work from 7:30-4:00 each day, with children attending between the hours 7:45-4:00. Staff members will use the time before and after the children are present to thoroughly clean and sanitize the classroom center with the help from the administrators when necessary.
- Parents will submit a fixed schedule for their child with both drop off time and pick up time included. If needed, schedules will be modified by administration to allow for a more staggered arrival and departure of children from the center. Consider staggering arrival and drop off times and/or have staff come outside the facility to pick up the children as they arrive. (DHS Guidance for Childcare Providers)
Group Sizing and Room/Center accommodations
- Children will not be combined for any part of the day and will remain with their enrolled group for the entirety of the enrollment period.
- Group sizing will be limited to a maximum size of 10 children per group. All efforts should be made to limit congregation of children and class sizes to 10 or less. (DHS Guidance for Childcare Providers)
- Room arrangements will be modified to allow for more spacing between children, including but not limited to: removal of furniture and designated center, addition of tables and chairs to allow for mealtime spacing, division of rooms for smaller group activities, and typical group sensory activities (playdough, sand, and water) will be provided individually to minimize the spread of germs.
- Prior to opening, teachers will work to create modified classroom and playground schedules to alternate access. Only one classroom at a time will be allowed in shared spaces such as motor room and playground area. Each shared area will be disinfected using a bleach and water solution after each group leaves and before the next group is to arrive. Each classroom will have their own bathroom. Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate for special activities such as art, music, and exercising. Clean or disinfect equipment between groups, when possible. (DHS Guidance for Childcare Providers; Centers for Disease Control)
- Any area in which children will be expected to wait in groups, such as hallways outside of bathrooms or sidewalks by playgrounds, will be marked with symbols spaced a minimum of 1-2 feet apart for children to use as guidance for spacing their bodies to help minimize the spread of contagions.
- During rest times, children’s mats will be spaced a minimum of three feet apart, with ideal spacing being 6 feet, with greater caution taken to ensure children are not facing each other or have a physical barrier between. Caution will be exercised to ensure children’s sheets and blankets do not come in contact with each other. If possible, at nap time, ensure that children’s naptime mats (or cribs) are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 6 feet apart. Consider placing children head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread. (Centers for Disease Control)
- Children’s cubbies will be alternated, leaving empty space between each child to ensure children’s belongings do not intermingle.
- All staff members will wear cloth face coverings while inside the building. Teachers will be permitted to remove face coverings while on the playground and in private offices. Teachers will be permitted a five-minute break every hour to step out of the classroom and to remove masks.
- All children will eat meals and snacks in classroom, maximizing space between each child to space children out in efforts to minimize the spread of germs.
- Children will not be required to wear face coverings. This decision was made after careful consideration of the following factors: the likelihood that a child would not keep a mask on, the increased likelihood that a child would continuously touch his/her face to adjust a mask, the risk of breathing impairment/overheating, the likelihood of children wanting to touch each other’s mask or share masks, etc. If a parent requests the use of a mask for their child, aged 2 or above, teachers will use their best effort to help child wear mask.
- If possible, windows will be opened frequently and for long periods of time to allow for increased air circulation through the center to decrease chances of airborne particles. If available, fans will be placed near windows with the air flow pointing outwards in order to direct airflow to outside. Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling, triggering asthma symptoms) to children using the facility. (Centers for Disease Control)
An isolation room will be established in an empty office or classroom space to use in the event a child begins to show symptoms of illness during the day. In this scenario, a teacher or administrator will isolate with the child until parents can arrive for pick-up. Afterwards the room will be thoroughly sanitized, ensuring all soft materials are removed for cleaning, and all hard surfaces are wiped down. The teacher or administrator who isolates with the child will also quarantine at home for an appropriate time to be determined by current CDC recommendations or written clearance by a medical doctor. If a child becomes sick while at the facility, contact the parent or guardian immediately and separate the child from other children at the facility. Plan to have an isolation room or area that can be used to isolate a sick child. (DHS Guidance for Childcare Providers; Centers for Disease Control). Keep sick children and staff separate from well children and staff until they can be sent home. (cdc.gov) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine-isolation.html
Family and Child Guidelines
- Access to the center will be limited to a single-entry point.
- Parents will submit their fixed schedule to administration, designating assigned arrival and departure times to be modified by the administration as deemed necessary.
- Arrival window will be between 7:45 am and 9:45 am; departure will occur between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm; Friday departure time between 1:00-1:45 pm.
- A designated staff member(s), likely an administrator, will be stationed at the point of entry, prepared to accept children into the center or guide children to their parents at the end of the day.
- No parents will be admitted to the center. All arrivals and departures will take place directly outside the point of entrance. Pick-up and drop-off should occur outside the facility, unless it is determined that there is a legitimate need for the parent to enter a facility. (DHS Guidance for Childcare Providers). Consider staggering arrival and drop off times and/or have childcare providers come outside the facility to pick up the children as they arrive. Your plan for curb side drop off and pick up should limit direct contact between parents and staff members and adhere to social distancing recommendations. (Centers for Disease Control)
- One parent should be designated as a drop off and pick up liaison, if possible. No more than one adult will be allowed to drop off or pick up a child at a given time. The same person that drops off the child should also pick up in the afternoon within reasonable parameters. Ideally, the same parent or designated person should drop off and pick up the child every day. If possible, older people such as grandparents or those with serious underlying medical conditions should not pick up children, because they are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. (Centers for Disease Control)
- Teachers will have access to the children’s arrival and departure times, allowing for ease of transition to and from the center. Prior to departure time, the teachers will help the child gather their items to send home, provide any notes or communication for parents, and will have the children ready to be guided to their parents by the designated staff member. In addition, the teachers will use the HiMama app to communicate with families throughout the day.
- Parents will arrive at the center in their approved window of time for arrival and departure. They will park in designated parking area. Parents will form a line outside of the point of entrance at designated intervals spaced six feet apart. Prior to reopening, staff will create designated waiting points at intervals of six feet on the sidewalk for arrival and will designate a clear path for parents to return to their car, avoiding other parents who are waiting in line. Parents will queue at intervals until they reach the designated entrance. After dropping off or picking up their child, the parents will circle around the designated area to return to their cars, avoiding the other parents in line. Any parents who are not following set protocol will be asked to wait in their car until a designated staff member can serve them individually. A detailed diagram of plans for movement during arrival and departure will be provided.
- Parents will bring their child and their child’s belongings to the point of entrance for the center. The designated staff member will direct the parent to sign their child in, fill out any designated drop off form, and will conduct a health screening for the child, including a temperature check and inquiry of symptoms or exposure.
- The designated staff member will walk the child to their classroom and sign the child into the classroom.
- Teachers will use HiMama app to check children into the classroom until drop off times have ended. At the end of arrival windows, administrators will bring the official sign in records to the teacher to keep until departure time.
- At departure, the designated staff member(s) will transport the child from the classroom to the designated point of entry. Parents will sign the child out and will complete the remainder of the drop off form. Staff member(s) will check the child’s temperature and will note any symptoms the child has exhibited. Parents will be notified of any supplies needed for the next day.
- Any child who is exhibiting the following symptoms will be excluded from care, either at arrival or at any point during the day in which symptoms arise: fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher, persistent cough, breathing difficulties, complaints of muscle pain, complaints of sore throat, runny nose, vomiting, rash, diarrhea (more than one occurrence), swelling in extremities, dizziness, pallid complexion, or headache. Staff reserve the right to exclude a child at any time for any reason, not inclusive of the above list. Persons who have a fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or above or other signs of illness should not be admitted to the facility. Encourage parents to be on the alert for signs of illness in their children and to keep them home when they are sick. Screen staff and children upon arrival, if possible. (DHS Guidance for Childcare Providers; Centers for Disease Control)
- This hotline has been recommended by DHS as resource for providers to ask questions about individual cases/symptoms: 423-979-4689 NE Regional Health Dept Covid Hotline
- If a child is sent home with any symptoms, he or she will not be permitted to return to the center without written clearance from a medical doctor.
- In order to keep the process of arrival and departure efficient and organized for all parties, parents will not be allowed to drop off before their designated arrival time. In addition, parents who arrive outside the window of their designated departure time, a late fee of $1 per minute will be assessed. This will be based on the family’s signed contractual time for care at Little Bucs.
- Any child who was previously enrolled in another program during the closures of Little Bucs will need to quarantine prior to readmittance to programs.
- Parents will be provided with a detailed supply list for their child, including: a daily picnic style lunch in brown paper bags, a minimum of one complete set of clothes, and a pair of shoes to be worn in the building.
- Upon arrival to the classroom, children will be guided in taking their shoes off and placing them in their cubby and putting on a pair of designated “school shoes”. The school shoes will not leave the building (except for playground visits). Upon departure, children will change back into their “home shoes”, leaving school shoes to be disinfected at the end of the day.
- Teachers and other staff members will directly help each child wash his/her hands if needed, ensuring that a proper handwashing time of 20 seconds occurs, and ensuring that the child uses soap and water to clean all areas of hands. Assist children with handwashing, including infants who cannot wash hands alone. (Centers for Disease Control)
- Bleach water will be made at least once daily, replenishing as needed, using the CDC recommendations of 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html
- High touch surfaces will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day. These surfaces include, but are not limited to: door knobs, railings, writing utensils, sinks, toilets, counter tops, tables, chairs, and playground equipment. Surfaces will be cleaned with a soap water mixture, then sprayed with the bleach water solution. Staff will ensure that the entirety of the surface is saturated with solution, allowing the surface to either air dry or allowing contact with the bleach solution for a minimum of one minute per CDC guidelines. Routinely clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, especially toys and games. This may also include cleaning objects/surfaces not ordinarily cleaned daily such as doorknobs, light switches, classroom sink handles, countertops, nap pads, toilet training potties, desks, chairs, cubbies, and playground structures. (Centers for Disease Control) Further cleaning guidelines can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html
- Playground equipment will be sanitized using bleach water solution after each class has left and before the next class arrives. This can be done while children are lined up outside of the fence after departure if staffing allows or can be done by an administrator otherwise.
- Bathrooms (sinks, toilets, door handles and knobs) will be sanitized after each class has used the facility and before the next class arrives.
- Toys and materials in the classroom will be selected based on ease of cleaning and age grouping. Machine washable cloth toys should be used by one individual at a time or should not be used at all. These toys should be laundered before being used by another child. (Centers for Disease Control)
- Children will not be permitted to bring toy items from home, unless the toy will stay at school daily for cleaning and sanitizing.
- Children’s mat sheets and blankets will be removed after rest time and placed in their designated cubby area. Sheets and blankets will be washed once per week, unless a child is exhibiting symptoms at which time all sheets and blankets will be laundered immediately. Infant sheets will be washed daily. Laundry baskets will be sanitized after each use. Use bedding (sheets, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags) that can be washed. Keep each child’s bedding separate, and consider storing in individually labeled bins, cubbies, or bags. Cots and mats should be labeled for each child. Bedding that touches a child’s skin should be cleaned weekly or before use by another child. (Centers for Disease Control)
- Children’s mats will be cleaned and sanitized daily using soap water and bleach water solution. Bleach water solution will be left on the mats to air dry, or for a minimum of one minute.
- Children will bring a picnic-style lunch daily. This entails parents providing food that does not need to be heated, cut, or prepared by teachers. Children will be encouraged to practice self-help skills as much as possible in opening their own lunches and containers. The use of picnic-style lunches will help reduce the need for teachers or other staff members to come in contact with a child’s food, reducing the risk of spreading germs. Lunches will be packed in disposable, brown paper bags in lieu of reusable lunchboxes.
- In the event that a teacher needs to help a child with food preparation, the teacher will wash hands before and after contact with the child’s food and will wear gloves while handling the food. Caregivers should wash their hands before preparing food and after helping children to eat. All children, staff, and volunteers should engage in hand hygiene… before and after preparing food or drinks and before and after eating or handling food or feeding children. (Centers for Disease Control)
- The center will provide a morning and an afternoon snack for each child. Precautions will be made to ensure that cross contamination of food is prevented. This may entail the purchase of individually packaged snacks.
- Exceptions to food preparation will be made in infant classrooms to support the need for prepared bottles and baby food. In these circumstances, all precautions will be taken to ensure food safety (washing hands before and after, use of gloves when preparing and feeding, disinfection of surfaces and supplies).
- The use of disposable paper plates, cups, and utensils will be used to help mitigate the spread of germs through reusable dishware.
Little Buccaneers are committed to creating and maintaining a place for children that acknowledges, reflects and communicates our values. Little Buccaneers has a set of fundamental values that are based on an image of the child as curious, competent and capable of co-constructing knowledge. This co-construction of knowledge is supported by an environment that is abundant with a host of resources and is supported by time.