The time is finally here! Pine Village is getting ready for our reopening on August 3rd! We’ve spent the last four months apart, away from each other and away from the children and families, and we simply cannot wait to be together in our schools again!
The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) released their Minimum Health and Safety Guidelines in early June which set the wheels in motion for all childcare programs in Massachusetts to reopen after being forced to close mid-March, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While it has been a fierce struggle for childcare programs to remain viable and strong amidst the complete shutdown of our industry, what has emerged as a direct result of these challenges is a stronger, more unified group of providers, owners, and educators, many of whom have advocated strongly during the shutdown to protect our programs and the work we do with children. Many programs, Pine Village included, created online preschool curriculum experiences for children so that what was an everyday part of their lives could remain so, at least in some fashion at home. Educators, literally overnight, reinvented preschool into an at-home experience for parents and children. It was remarkable!
Finally, after much intense work, many conversations, and collaborations with leaders in the field, we are now challenged with reopening our programs and welcoming our staff and children back into preschool after a long and (we imagine for all) personally challenging time. The new mandates, ratios, and hygiene requirements have forced programs to create and adopt a new approach to early childhood, at least for now. Classrooms will look a bit different, drop offs and pick-ups will not be as interactive as they were before, but what remains the same is our love for your children and our passion for creating an engaging and exciting classroom environment for your kiddos.
If you are a parent, we are quite sure you have questions related to what preschool will look like when we return. We are working hard to assure that it will look and feel a lot more familiar than we fear at the moment, but there will be some adjustments, as we’ve shared on our COVID-19 FAQs page.
But here’s what we see right now:
- Each classroom will be open and exist just as it did last school year, pre-Covid.
- You will see those beautiful smiling teacher’s faces.
- You will see the children’s names in the classrooms, lots of Spanish words, and pictures to brighten the walls.
- You will hear music and laughter and lots of Spanish!
- Your director will be at the entrance to greet you!
- You children will see the faces of their PVP friends and they will play with each other!
- Our focus will be on creating an invisible safety bubble around each classroom, managing the number of staff who enter, and limiting the interaction between groups. We do this because we want to minimize the risk of exposure and the possibility of cross contamination.
- We will be limiting the number of toys and manipulatives that are always available to the kids, out on shelves etc., and move to a more controlled distribution of materials so that we can continuously clean and sanitize. So, for example we will likely have containers of supplies and activities that get taken out for small groups of children to use for a while before boxing them up again for cleaning as the kids finish up.
- We may move the age groups around to different classrooms so that we can better utilize the space and restrooms without jamming up common areas.
- We will also have a more guided plan for the day with small groups (two or so) moving into different areas of the room throughout the day.
- Going outdoors is vital and the healthiest place for us to be, as you know. We will use our outdoor spaces (one group at a time) and we will take walks around the neighborhoods.
- EEC has removed the restriction around use of public parks so we do plan on accessing parks, as long as they are not overcrowded.
- Our focus for the start of the year in August and September will be on the children; making sure we connect with them, that they are feeling safe and understood, and that we are supporting their social and emotional health first and foremost. It’s been a long time since we’ve been together and we want to make sure that everyone is adjusting in his or her own way, feels happy to be back and reacquaints with the PVP community.
As recently as June 27th, EEC sent out a communication stating that they anticipate amending the regulations once again before the school year starts in September. We hesitate to make a prediction on what these will look like, however we are hopeful that updates allow for more flexibility with staff and possibly groups being allowed to interact a bit more freely, keeping the “bubble” over the whole school community rather than each individual classroom.
During our first days of the summer program we imagine there will be both excitement and fears among the staff, parents, and the children. We promise to be ready for all that comes our way, support you, your children and our amazing staff. We simply can’t wait to get back to doing what we love.
More PVP information is on the way from us. Please stay tuned!