August 14th 2020, the Oregon Department of Early Learning released what is anticipated to be the final health and safety guidelines for child care centers operating during Covid-19. The full update can be found HERE. The 62 page document details final health and safety guidelines in addition to the 80 page Child Care Center Rules which must be followed during typical operations; that’s a lot of rules, and we thank you in advance for helping us to adhere to them completely.
For Cobb Childcare and Preschool, the following changes which affect families will be implemented effective September 1st 2020:
- All people kindergarten and older at drop off must wear a face mask or face shield which cover the nose and mouth. We still ask that you remove sunglasses and hats during pickup as well to assist us in seeing your face before we collect children for pickup. If you forget, please do not be surprised if we ask you to remove them if we cannot identify you immediately.
- Parents who are breastfeeding may now enter the facility after sanitizing & masking up for the purpose of feeding their child. A location away from other children will be provided and sanitized after use. Because we do not have staff available at all times to answer the door, we ask that you notify us in advance.
- We will resume taking temperatures of children at the door prior to entry as part of our health check.
- All pillows, stuffed animals and items other than a blanket for nap must stay at home. Our cubbies are small, and many are exploding from the many “accouterments” children bring with them, making it difficult to keep children’s items from touching other items and contaminating them. Best practices recommend against bringing additional items from home, and we are inclined to agree.
- We will be enforcing our existing 9:00 am drop off policy. We are not a day care and children who arrive after 9:00 miss critical learning opportunities, and late arrivals can disrupt the learning activities of other children. During COVID-19, we schedule a staff member to be available to answer the door until 9:00. We understand there may be rare and intermittent days where an appointment or “just one of those days” makes a pre-9:00 drop off impossible, and we thank you in advance for notifying us when this does happen.
Other notable changes in the new guidelines are the increase in classroom size. The new guidelines allow us to resume our typical classroom sizes, and we will do so as soon as possible. As you remember from prior updates, hiring is at a standstill right now do to the lack of applicants. It is important to us (and your child) that we hire high-quality and qualified staff to care for and educate your children. We will continue to increase our enrollment as we stabilize our staffing team. If your family is one who has been impacted by the reduction in classroom size, we will notify you as your child’s spot becomes available.
Recognizing there will be questions regarding the lunch program and the resumption of normal hours, once we are fully enrolled and fully staffed, it is our intention to bring back the lunch program. To do so, we will need to secure a part time qualified and culinary trained individual (who loves children), so our guess is as good as yours when this will happen but hopefully soon!
For safety reasons, the new guidelines do not allow us to resume combining classrooms at any part of the day, which is an important step in halting any potential outbreaks that may occur is a child or staff member becomes infected. To extend our operating hours without combining classrooms in the morning and the evening would require staff to work more than 50 hours weekly, which is not an option if we want to retain the staff we have (and we do!).
Working at Cobb is incredibly demanding and non-stop. Our teaching staff develops lesson plans, records and documents daily activities, and ensures your children are provided opportunity to meet developmental milestones, are learning in an environment that is relevant and meaningful to them and honestly, making magical things happen for your children daily. Can you imagine sending home the amazing documentation you see daily in BrightWheel for 8 or 10 children every day in addition to planning and learning alongside our little citizens?!? We asked a lot of them before COVID, and their dedication to showing up each and every day during a pandemic and potentially exposing themselves to virus’ and germs is outstanding, and quite honestly deserves applause. I believe strongly that the very least we can do is to provide our staff an environment where they can practice self care and be the best versions of themselves each day when they arrive for duty; this requires the opportunity to rest. Once we are fully staffed, we will examine our ability to extend our hours.
We know that you have choices when it comes to the care of your child(ren) and we thank you for choosing us! By choosing Cobb, your child is part of the only emergent child care and preschool community in Douglas County. Our approach is research-based and developmentally appropriate, preparing our young learners to become authentic and outstanding citizens of our community. If you’d like to learn more about our approach and what to expect in your child’s classroom next year, please visit our website: https://cobbschool.org/our-approach/