It has been a minute since I last posted. Life as a child care provider during COVID has been a wild … adventure? Since March 2020 there have been at least seven rule changes to date. Those changes were anything small from two page documents, to one document being 62 pages. Life in early March consisted of large group circle time, laughter, singing, dress ups, sand tables and then moving into Centers where children would play cooperatively. Since COVID hit? We lost the ability to use sand or sensory play. Dress ups went out the window. Anything soft had to be removed. Every surface had to be covered with a sneeze shield or be fully cleanable.
In the begining everyone stayed home and we had one to two children daily. That was a large change from 31! As families trickled back into care, rules seem to change daily. At first if anyone in the family was sick, everyone had to stay out for 14 days (parent/child)! Then it changed to 10 days if the child had any form of sickness symptoms. Now it seems to be changing again to if you have two sickness symptoms, then you are out for 10 days. However if you just have one symptom, you need to be symptom and medication free for 24 hours.
Sanitizing and disinfecting has become an out of this world chore. I’ll just say it now is a full time job for multiple people throughout the day. Certain toys must be put away and just can’t be played with. Toys can not be brought into school. Books have to be sanitized… BOOKS! The newest rule… children are NOT allowed to share. Ok, as an Early Childhood Professional, sharing is one of the basic building blocks for Social Emotional Development. How to you PREVENT sharing?… Inquiring minds want to know. Children are also suppose to social distance. Have you ever tried to socially distance young children? It is similar to bathing cats. Some love it and others, not so much.
In April/May, groups were split up. Friends who would see each other daily prior to the pandemic, were now separated and not allowed contact. Group sizes were shut down to a, “stable group of 5 – 10.” Kids could not switch between groups or hang out with their friends, only half of them. Watching students grieve and ask why they can’t see their friend any more, knowing they are in the class on the other side of the wall or downstairs was hard.
We are a little frustrated about the 62 pages of rules with many pieces of fine print costing money, time and giving up many of our personal freedoms. Yet we love our jobs. So we press on and pray for this storm to pass and for things to return to normal. One thing we are grateful for in the new massive rule that begins on September 1, 2020, going back to group sizes. For our center this would be a max class of 20, for our homes max of 16. Friends will be reunited and so happy to see each other!
For those of you who supported us during this time, thank you. For those of you who supported your provider in your State or City, THANK YOU! Child care has been damaged in this pandemic. The financial losses from requirements from the state were large. Shutting down programs only allowing one group was also financially hard. A program that once had four groups, now had to financially sink, there was no other choice -no funding supports when our legs were knocked out. Developmentally appropriate practices have been thrown out. Teachers must cover their faces and wear, “Hazmat suit,” material if you are feeding an infant a bottle (and a mask). Can you imagine what infants are going through? How terrifying this must be for them.
It is my sincere hope that our nation can return back to some form of normalcy where Developmentally Appropriate practices are again embraced and providers are allowed to again practice the art of Early Childhood Education. Until then, Preschool and Child Care is just a shadow of what it was prior to COVID. Until then teachers and program directors need your support and encouragement.