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.
- Upon arrival, children are escorted to their classrooms and wash their hands immediately upon entering.
- Painted the program’s virtues on the playground wall.
- Added patio games to encourage children’s active physical play outdoors.
- Painted directional designs on the bike track.
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. Paint for the playground enhancement project was donated by Builders First Source in Sedona. Thrivent Financial also provided gift cards towards replacing the garden border and re-leveling the Astroturf. 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.
- If you are considering changes to your physical space to support enhanced health and safety practices, contact your Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Bureau of Child Care Licensing surveyor or Department of Economic Security (DES) certification specialist to ensure the changes align with licensing and certification rules.
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.
*Editor’s Note: A previous version of this blog included a description of a temporary outdoor handwashing station. The temporary handwashing station is no longer being used, and the program is in consultation with the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Child Care Licensing on the construction of a permanent outdoor handwashing station that meets the highest health and safety standards.