The foundation of quality early childhood programs is providing a healthy environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged and raised the stakes for programs statewide. Early childhood educators across Arizona are creating enhanced procedures to protect the health of the children in their care.
Precious Stones Preschool in Sedona is one of those programs. As a Quality First participant in the Yavapai region, the preschool created new health practices for reopening after a temporary closure during the pandemic. Read on to learn more about their new practices and consider how you might incorporate similar ideas within your program.
New routines focused on health
After seven weeks of closure due to COVID-19, Precious Stones Preschool implemented these practices prior to reopening on May 4. They wanted to do their very best to maintain the health and safety of their staff, children and families. While it can be difficult to form new routines, they created practices to make things as easy as possible to follow.
Arrival procedures to limit the spread of germs
- Installation of a wireless doorbell to limit foot traffic of parents and visitors.
- Use of a single fingerprint scanner for Pro Care clock-in/out, which gets wiped down with 50% alcohol and an eyeglass cloth.
- For signing in, parents can access designated cups for clean pens and then place used pens in a different cup on a sign-in table, which is wheeled close to the front door.
- Chalk drawings on the patio help families to know where to stand while waiting their turn during check-in.
Outdoor handwashing station
- An outdoor handwashing station was set up using a water jug, soap, a paper towel dispenser and a rolling cooler to catch dirty water, which gets dumped into the parking lot.
Gioia Quisumbing, director of Precious Stones Preschool, described the many benefits of the new outdoor handwashing station: “It is great to be able to have the children wash hands while on the playground, instead of a teacher having to bring one child or several inside at a time to do that, while they are still in play, or in dealing with boo-boos. It also makes it easy at pick-up time, to have the children wash hands before they head home for the day, or before coming in during transitions back into the classroom.”
Thinking of incorporating these ideas in your program? Here are a few pieces of advice:
- Don’t be shy about asking for local business support. The supplies for Precious Stones’ handwashing station were donated by the local Home Depot. Local businesses often have donation programs to fund special events and projects in their communities. Some may even have the opportunity for staff to volunteer their labor in support of projects.
- It’s important to send regular communication out to families regarding the changes in attendance flow as they occur, regarding pick-up/drop-off routines and updated illness exclusion policies. Posting these new policies in the doorways also helps everyone adhere to the new requirements.
- Be patient as staff, children and families adjust to new routines. Getting into new habits takes time, practice and consistency.
Online resources for additional ideas
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers health and safety recommendations for schools and child care on their Coronavirus Disease 2019 page:
At Quality First, we love to hear from you! Share your new and innovative practices so others can be inspired. Send an email to QualityFirst@FirstThingsFirst.org.