In case you all don't hear it enough: we deeply appreciate you all staying open and supporting the community through this pandemic.
We are so happy with our time at EPC so far! The management throughout the COVID crisis has been better than what we've heard from our friends at other centers. The ability to withdraw our child for a period of time at no cost was very helpful and we felt so comfortable re-enrolling with the enhanced procedures.
The teachers who have been part of our son's care have all been amazing. He lights up when we drop him off and is always still happy at the end of the day. The activities he gets to do each day have helped to amuse him, tire him out, and develop new skills.
The period of time we had our son at home only made me appreciate the staff at the center even more. Thank you for the great experience with our first child in daycare!
- Sarah Sanford
I am especially reassured (if one can really be reassured at this uncertain time) to read that "We have made the decision as an organization to continue with the temperature checks for the time being". Wearing face coverings, temp screening (for teachers, children and parents) as well as all the modifications/steps that EPC have taken so far are all important strategies to mitigate risks of COVID-19. I truly appreciate all the efforts that the organization has made and will continue to make. Thank you and all the staff for keeping kids healthy and safe.
- Amy Chen
I want to give praise to EPC, and the Ellington location in particular, for how everything has been working with Covid-19. I actually work as a registered nurse advisor on a task force in MA to get businesses back up and running with the new requirements, so I know how difficult it is to not only remain open but to quickly react to the changes that have been thrown your way. Every step of the way EPC- Ellington was on top of the changes and sometimes were even ahead of them. All done with a mask covered smile.
I already sang high praises of your staff, prior to this event. Putting a kid in childcare is never an easy decision, but from being greeted by Tracy or Danielle at the entrance to his teachers (Primarily Ms. Zofia, Ms. Danielle, Ms. Sam) who obviously love him, it makes it much easier. Even right now, he's almost 10 months and starting to have separation anxiety, but we come to EPC and he starts squealing in the parking lot and has smiles and leg kicks for his teachers. He comes home happy and tired and I know he spent his day learning and playing.
So kudos to the entire EPC staff, from leadership on down. This has not been easy, I am aware, but you guys sure are making it look like it is.
- Sara Pereiraven
With all that’s going on with Coronavirus, I just wanted to say thank you for all that you and the rest of the team are doing to keep the kids and staff at EPC healthy and safe. I can only imagine the challenges that you’re facing from scared parents and family members. At first I was nervous when I saw emails from Nancy on a daily basis, but now I am appreciative of the updates!
- Sarah Strange
I just want to say again how very much we appreciate everything that you and your whole team are doing to help our family “stay afloat” during these stressful times (for little people as well as big people!). The care, creativity, and consistency that you have been providing along with the giggles and music means so very much to our children – there are always smiles and cheers at the dinner table as they share what they did for the day. John and I have been so grateful for all of you from day 1 – and that feeling gets stronger every day! Thank you! Thank you!
- Rebecca Eckert
I would like to thank you for your exceptional flexibility and compassion during such an unprecedented time. Your willingness to work with your families reassures me (yet again) that this is truly the right home away from home for my daughter. I can't imagine things have been easy on your end. I hope that you are all feeling well, and we look forward to a taste of normalcy with you soon.
- Ashley Moore
My children have remained engaged with their learning and continued to build on the foundation of knowledge that EPC had provided prior to their closing. We will not be able to look back on this time of uncertainty without remembering our child’s teacher as part of our family through it all. We are forever grateful.
- Caroline Danna and Family
We wanted to let you and all of the teachers and staff know just how much you are all appreciated. Even with the craziness going on in the world right now you guys are still there for the families and kids of EPC. As parents of two boys that attend EPC we wanted to let you all know how fortunate we feel to have Such amazing people taking care of our sons. They miss everybody so much and can’t wait until the “germs go away “.
- Courtney Collier
COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions
To help you and your child prepare for your return to Educational Playcare, we have answered some common questions.
What has been your approach towards school operations during the pandemic?
Our priority is, as always, ensuring the health and safety of our children and our staff. Each step of the process has required careful vigilance with respect to hygiene, sanitation, and operating procedures. We have been able to put into place a rigorous system of cleaning and sanitizing, including the use of our Zono machines, accompanied by thorough hand-washing practices. As well, we have adapted our routines and environments to facilitate physical distancing.
It is also important to us to support our children and families who found themselves stuck at home. We moved quickly to launch our “Learning at Home” initiative, in which activities targeting different developmental areas for each age group are being sent to families on a weekly basis and are available on our website. In addition, we shared posts and activities so that your children would remain familiar with their teachers.
Our goal has been to create a thoughtful balance between parent support and independent child engagement through easy to do activities at home with a multitude of outcomes for your children
How have you adapted to the new protocol and what safety measures are in place?
We are strictly adhering to all the guidelines established by our local, state, and federal health authorities and the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood. In addition, we’ve researched other practices to create a comprehensive list of best protocol to ensure the health and safety of our children and our staff.
We have looked at all parts of the day, including routines, learning activities, mealtimes, transition times, and outside times, to reflect on adaptations we can make to ensure safe measures are in place. Our entire team has been trained on the procedural changes and new operating measures.
What measures are in place for physical distancing?
We continue to use classroom management systems to limit the children at each learning center. Our classrooms remain physically set up with smaller group activities available. We have also adjusted our routines to minimize group transitions. We are maintaining group sizes no larger than 10 children.
We transition children outside in smaller groups. The activities we implement throughout the day have inherent physical distancing parameters. Dance, yoga, and music experiences as well as other types of physical activities are used to channel the joy of movement for the children while limiting close interactions. We will ensure that children continue to experience joyful learning.
How will children understand physical distancing?
We know children are naturally drawn to their peers and we do not want to discourage that tendency. We intend to redirect it when we can. We will use positive language and redirection consistently to help spread children out in play when they have naturally congregated.
What if my child just needs a hug?
Our physical distancing strategies have been implemented to minimize close contact when possible, but not altogether. While we recognize the necessity for physical distancing, we also recognize the necessity for those physical interactions aimed to support a child who may be hurt or upset, or just in need of a hug. We are not eliminating those moments. We will continue to look out for the emotional health and well-being of every child within our schools and will nurture them accordingly.
Will drop-off and pick-up times look different for families?
Family members are asked to remain outside of the classrooms. A school representative will assist each family member with a short screening process developed by the Office of Early Childhood, including a body temperature check. Children with symptoms will not be able to attend the school for 14 days without written documentation from a physician that they tested negative for the COVID-19 virus. The same rules apply if any member of a child’s household is diagnosed with COVID-19.
Will staff be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves?
All staff wear gloves during any feeding, diapering, and cleaning process. Gloves are removed, hands will be washed, and new gloves are applied for each new process.
Masks must be worn by all adults whenever they are in one of our buildings.
What if my child becomes ill while attending the school?
In the event that your child exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 while at the school, they will be brought to an isolated space by a familiar staff member who will wear gloves and a mask to minimize germ transfer. A parent or guardian will be contacted immediately and asked to pick the child up as soon as possible. Family members will be required to seek guidance from their child’s physician to determine testing protocols. As well, the child may not return to the center until they have been symptom-free for a period of 14 days or have received written documentation from their physician of a negative COVID-19 test result. If they are tested positive for COVID, written documentation from their physician of a negative COVID-19 test result is required before the child can return to our care, and depending on the town, we may be required to inform our local health department.
What additional cleaning and hygiene processes are now being implemented?
All high touch surfaces are sanitized continuously.
Soft materials that cannot be easily cleaned are regularly sanitized in our Zono machines. Materials that have been mouthed or contaminated in any way are removed from the program until they can be washed and sanitized. Materials that have been used by one group of children will be washed and sanitized before being used by the next group of children. Our team of educators consistently rotate out toys to ensure a rich variety of play materials for your children. Despite these frequent cleaning requirements and other procedures, we continue to provide robust learning opportunities for your children.
Enhanced handwashing requirements have been implemented for all children and staff. They are expected to wash their hands upon arrival to the school, after outside play, before and after eating, after toileting, after diapering, after cleaning, after wiping noses, and intermittently throughout the day to ensure vigilant practice. As well, educators role model singing songs throughout the handwashing process to complete the 20 second timed guideline.
Careful attention is maintained during all snack and mealtimes to eliminate cross-contamination of food items. All surfaces are washed and sanitized thoroughly before and after mealtimes.
Tissue boxes are available throughout the classrooms to catch any sneezes and coughs. If using a tissue is not possible, children are guided to sneeze into their elbow. Children are supported to dispose of these tissues appropriately and guided to wash their hands.
Will my child be placed in the same program upon returning to the school?
Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that your child will return to their previous classroom. This is due to the new regulations governing our group sizes and school capacity, the anticipated gradual growth of our enrollment levels, and the gradual return of our beloved staff. However, we assure you that all measures are being taken to place your child in a comfortable classroom with familiar peers and educators. Furthermore, we will be as consistent as possible regarding your child’s educator in order to minimize the unnecessary risk of exposure to too many people.
School staff will reach out to family members, updating them of any changes to their child’s classroom, if needed.
How can I help support my child with the transition back to childcare?
We encourage you to begin talking about the return to school as soon as you can. In most cases, your child will be excited to see their friends and teachers again, and conversations should reflect on positive past experiences, including favorite moments with their teachers and peers. Reflecting on photos from your child’s Tadpoles account is also fun, as is following a countdown to their return.
Some children may exhibit apprehension about returning, and there are some books that may ease some of this anxiety. These include:
- Come Along, Daisy by Jane Simmons
- Raccoon on His Own by Jim Arnosky
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas
- Bye Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick
- Llama, Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
- Once I was Very, Very Scared by Chandra Ghosh Ippen
- Holdin Pott by Chandra Ghosh Ippen
Our educators are also supporting your children through the use of visual schedules, story times that feature emotional literacy and resilience, and connection strategies that are personalized and joyful.
In addition, your school director will provide communication regarding any changes within the school. This is in addition to communication from your child’s teacher regarding how he or she is settling into the new childcare norm.
We will be doing all we can to nurture and support your children and your family throughout this transition. Please reach out to your school director for clarification regarding any of these details or anything else.