As of today’s date, we have been living in this ‘pandemic’ for over three months. A long three months. At the end of each day, we are all probably thinking “when will we all go back to our normalcy?” Not only do we, as adults long for this, but so do our children. Not all children know what’s going on except for the fact they can’t go see their friends, family, or finish out their school year. I have a 2-year-old so of course, she doesn’t understand any of this and all I can do is feel the pain for her. Yes, she is getting quality time with her mommy during this all but I as a parent struggle to juggle it all on top of working full time from home, all on my own while my significant other is physically out of the house working; and I know I’m not the only one that feels this way.
As we’re in Phase 3 in Illinois, most daycares and maybe your childcare services have not fully reopened since most will get the ‘go-ahead’ come Phase 4. On the other hand, some facilities have or continue to stay open due to the Emergency License they were able to obtain during this uncertain time. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Colleen Howard, Program Director of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool® of Schaumburg (here and after referred to as Little Sunshine’s), to get a better understanding how their facility is working through all of this.
At the beginning of this pandemic, Little Sunshine’s obtained their emergency license early on so there wasn’t a hiccup in their schedule; they were lucky enough to only be closed for one day. Little Sunshine’s also had to complete additional background checks of their staff due to obtaining this license, but together a staff plan and Covid-19 Agency Action Plan. Because Little Sunshine’s has their emergency license, this means they are available to care for their current families that are essential workers. The only thing Little Sunshine’s would need in order to continue to care for your child is a letter from your employer explaining that you are an in fact an essential worker. Since a lot of parents are working from home, they have actually softened their policy and are open to the public for childcare for essential workers, if needed, however, the parents do have some extra steps to go through since they are new to Little Sunshine’s; please contact the Willowbrook, IL location if you have any questions.
Little Sunshine’s takes the safety of the children and the staff very seriously by ensuring all staff and children’s temperatures are taken before entering the building, and also two more additional times throughout the day. Right before the pandemic started, they had asked all their parents a series of questions about theirs and the children’s whereabouts and symptoms and also asked all parents to keep the school updated on any changes in circumstances for everyone’s safety. At this time, their staff and children are healthy and have had no concerns of COVID19. If a staff or student’s family member were to test positive for COVID19, the individual would have to be quarantined for 14 days regardless if the child or staff tested negative themselves. If a student or staff member were to personally get the virus, the school would actually close down; they are taking these precautions very seriously and would follow all protocol that DCFS and CDC require. Little Sunshine has always kept the children’s surroundings clean and they continue to do so by sanitizing their classrooms throughout the day and washing all cloth items like sheets and blankets on a daily basis. They have also taken all area rugs, and cloth items out of their classrooms.
Before any students or staff members enter the preschool, Colleen or the Program Director gets the child(ren) from their parents’ vehicle, takes their temperature, and puts a different pair of shoes on the child that stays at the school at all times. As we know, kids are walking, running, crawling on the ground, etc., so to keep their surroundings clean, they change their shoes so no outside germs are coming into the building. School shoes vs. home shoes were a state recommendation that Little Sunshine follows. All staff members are wearing face masks at all times. Children ages 2 and over are required to wear a mask; however, the same will be removed for nap time, playing outside, and while eating. During this time, no parents or visitors are allowed to enter the building, only their limited staff, and students.
Little Sunshine’s understands this is a difficult time for their families, so all families whose children are not currently attending their school during this pandemic, are only paying half of their tuition and this goes towards to help pay their teachers’ salaries and health insurance so there is no lapse in same. Even though most of their staff are working from home, helping their classroom in other means, they are receiving their full pay. Their on-site staff has drastically downsized to just the Director, Chef and about 3 teachers due to the children attending their school at this time. In their toddler room, the teacher to student ratio used to be 1:5, but that has been reduced to 1:4 due to the pandemic. In addition, during this time they cannot have more than 10 children and 2 teachers per classroom. They have gone from 150 total children to now only having 12.
This continues to be a difficult time for everyone especially our children who may understandably be confused. If you are interested in learning more about Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool, please contact Colleen Howard for more information https://www.littlesunshine.com/.
Written by Nicole L. Morales
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