What to Look for in a Preschool or Child Care Center
By now, COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of our daily lives: From the way we dress to the way we buy groceries to the ways we spend time with our friends and families. For working parents, COVID-19 has created new household juggling acts as we navigate remote work schedules, virtual school for older children, and the closure of thousands of child care centers across the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area.
For many working families, caring for children at home during the work week is simply not an option. For others, the social-emotional benefits children experience through interacting with peers and teachers in person make preschool/child care a source of support during this difficult time. But how can families select a preschool/child care center that will be safe for their children?
Georgetown Hill, which has been operating throughout the COVID-19 crisis, has put together a list of things families should look for while considering an in-person program. These policies and practices are aligned with guidance from national, regional, and local agencies. They enable programs to balance the components of high-quality care and learning with the health and safety of teachers, children, and families.
What to Consider Outside the Facility:
- Outside entrance areas set up for health screenings and temperature checks at drop-off time
- Staggered entrance times and assigned entry doors to help ensure sufficient social distancing during drop-off and pick-up
- Teachers available to escort children to hand-washing areas and then to their classroom
- Sanitization of any items coming from home (backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes, etc.)
- All staff wearing masks
- Restrictions on allowing parents, family members, or other outside visitors inside the facility
- Virtual tours for prospective families
- Sufficient opportunities for social distancing on playgrounds
What to Consider Inside the Classroom:
- Children over the age of 2 wearing masks while indoors
- Staff wearing masks at all times
- Regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces (including faucets, shelf tops, doorknobs, etc.
- Individual storage for children’s materials: markers/crayons, scissors, glue, paper, pencils, water bottles, etc.
- Snacks served in pre-packaged containers when possible
- Socially-distanced play and learning activities including individual sensory bins, book baskets, math and science manipulatives, and art projects
- Limitations on the number of children in an area of the classroom at a time
- Daily professional cleaning services
- Developmentally-appropriate discussions with children about ways to stay safe and healthy
- Consistent communication between teachers and families on activities in the classroom (including photos/videos)
- Strict adherence to an approved sick policy
Like so many of our local businesses, child care centers and preschools have worked tirelessly since March 2020 to implement enhanced health and safety practices and continue to provide a high-quality experience for children and families. While touring a new facility, make sure to ask any questions that you have and request the opportunity to see children in action: learning, playing, growing, and staying safe.