Pretty much everyone is tired of hearing about the pandemic. Unfortunately, for now, things are still uncertain and precautions must be taken in order to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread further. Right now, parents and guardians may be going back to work and need childcare but are hesitant to send their children out into public without taking all the necessary precautions. If you run a childcare center, here are a few things that parents are looking for during COVID-19.
Children and COVID-19
Children do not seem to get as sick as often or as ill as adults with COVID-19. According to the Mayo Clinic:
While all children are capable of getting the virus that causes COVID-19, they don’t become sick as often as adults. Most children have mild symptoms or no symptoms.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, in the United States children represent about 9% of all COVID-19 cases. Hospitalization rates for children are much lower than for adults. However, if children are hospitalized, they need to be treated in the intensive care unit as often as hospitalized adults, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Yet, they have been known to get it. And children with underlying issues are also more susceptible, just like adults. This includes those with heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, and any of the other pre-existing conditions that adults should be aware of.
Cleanliness in the Center
One of the most important things that parents and guardians will be looking for is the cleanliness of the center. This means proper disinfection procedures need to be in-place. Including cleaning all high-contact surfaces such as tables, chairs, highchairs, and mats. These efforts should be done as often as it takes before and after each use.
Of course, the rest of the facility needs to be disinfected as well, and special attention should be on kitchen areas, eating utensils, drinking containers, and food preparation surfaces.
Many places have temporarily stopped the use of drinking fountains. If you do keep yours available to use, make sure it is not only watched but it should also be disinfected throughout the day and after each use. This is why it is not something most public places are allowing to be used because it takes time and effort and it’s hard to keep an eye on someone using it.
Join us as Rachelle Calina, CPA, review’s the application and related instructions including how it changes the rules related to owner compensation, FTE counts, the 8-week or 24-week covered period, non-payroll costs and more! We will also show you how to obtain the necessary documentation from QuickBooks Payroll, ADP and Paychex. This will be a one-hour presentation followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.
Hand Washing and Hand Sanitizer
Washing hands is one of great importance and a good way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. While hand sanitizers work in a pinch, they are not recommended for children under the age of five years. However, due to the outbreak, this has been amended. The best way though, is by using soap and water. Everyone who works at the childcare center should wash their hands when they get to work and before they go home.
Set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance of your childcare center. This is so that children everyone cleans their hands before coming into the facility. Sometimes this is not possible due to the location of a sink and running water. If so, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will suffice and this should be right next to parent sign-in sheets. As with any chemical, keep it where children cannot reach it without supervision. If possible, place sign-in stations outside, and provide sanitary wipes for cleaning writing utensils (such as pens and pencils) between each use.
Throughout the day, children should wash their hands, and this is especially important before and after eating.
You should have hand sanitizer on-hand when washing hands is not available for whatever reason. Yet, it should be secondary to a thorough hand washing and used as more of a backup plan.
These two efforts combined will help ensure that you are helping stop the spread of COVID-19.
Another key factor in keeping COVID-19 from spreading is with social distancing. You might think that a childcare center is the last place this is possible but it can work with a few guidelines to follow.
Even the CDC has social distancing strategies on their online informational packet.
If possible, child care classes should include the same group each day, and the same child care providers should remain with the same group each day. If your child care program remains open, consider creating a separate classroom or group for the children of healthcare workers and other first responders. If your program is unable to create a separate classroom, consider serving only the children of healthcare workers and first responders.
As far as group activities such as holiday events, class trips, and special performances, these should be postponed for now until it is safe to carry on with normal activities.
Another area where children end up in close proximity is playtime or special groups. Naps are also covered under this umbrella. If possible, alter the times that children are going to be doing these activities. For example, have one small group play at 2 PM and another at 3 PM. This includes all types of activities where children usually stay close together. If it’s an art project, do smaller groups or split them up into multiple groups. As far as naps, at the very least you should have each nap mat at least six feet from another. The same thing goes for any cribs you have in your childcare center. And another way of being proactive is to have everyone sleep head to toe. This keeps children’s faces away from other children’s faces, which can stop the spread.
As far as non-immediate workers such as those in administrative capacities, allow them to telecommute from home if possible. If may not be the ideal way that you want to run your business but things have changed temporarily and this is just another way of limiting the human contact between your staff, children, and parents.
Parent and Guardian Arrival Times
There are a few scenarios you can implement to ensure parents and guardians that their children are safe. One way is to stagger the times that children are left at your childcare center and when they are picked up. Even if it is just a few minutes apart, this allows less interaction as a whole. If possible, one person should be the go-to person who drops off their child and picks them up. The parent does not even have to get out of the vehicle unless it is an infant or child too young to walk. In that case, a parent can hand off a car seat if possible, which is stored away safely until their return.
The CDC suggests that whenever possible, the designated pick-up and drop-off person should not be on who is more prone to serious illness from COVID-19. This includes older grandparents and those with underlying conditions that make them more at risk.
Screening of Clients and Workers
Last but not least, make sure that all clients and workers are screened before entering your childcare center. Screen measures include taking temperatures with a temporal thermometer, wearing gloves, and barriers in place. It is a good idea to check with the parents and make sure the child has not had a fever over 100.4 degrees.
What Parents Are Looking For
All of these suggestions are what parents are looking for in a safe environment during the pandemic. When making these changes, it is an excellent idea to let the parents know in a newsletter or email blast. This not only alerts them of any changes, but it allows them time to prepare for changes they are not used to such as designating one drop-off person.
There is no perfect answer into what you can do to make parents feel comfortable but by putting in place procedures to create safety during COVID-19, they see that your childcare center is making an effort to be as clean and safe as possible. This helps put them at ease and lets them know that their child is in good hands.
Whether you are reopening your childcare center or simply want to make the right changes, these are ideal. If you need assistance with the accounting part of your childcare business, we can help. Just schedule a call with us today and let us make your business better equipped to handle the new normal.