How to implement social distancing in your child care program
This article is part of a series on transitioning children, families, and staff back into care after Covid-19 closures.
States are beginning to reopen after major closures due to Covid-19. There is variance in approach, but one consistent piece is applicable across all states, regions, and communities – regardless of location, many children will be returning to care over the next several months, and it may take some time and some thoughtfulness to help ensure a smooth transition back.
By now we’ve all become familiar with the term “social distancing,” but how does this apply to childcare settings? For anyone familiar with toddlers, the thought of keeping them 6′ apart is laughable, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t practices you can put in place to give everyone a bit more space.
Look to your licensing agency for guidance
As a licensee, it is your responsibility to be aware of any new requirements issued by Child Care Licensing and to follow them to the best of your ability and to the fullest extent possible. The expectations for what and how you implement social distancing in your program may vary depending on where you live. Look to see if your state licensing agency has recommendations or requirements for how to help children with social distancing.
To find out, go to Google and enter “social distancing childcare licensing” plus the name of your state. Look for official resources, meaning those put out by your licensing agency, as opposed to news articles or blog posts.
Of course it’s going to be challenging to keep kids completely out of each other’s space, but also, many children are likely aware of needing to take extra distance right now so you may not be starting at square one with them. If you aren’t sure how to do something, or don’t have the space to do it (napping 6’ apart, for example), call your local licensing authority and ask them for advice! Chances are, they are answering lots of similar questions.
Learn from your community
If you’re part of the Wonderschool community, tap into your support network! Other directors are likely going through the same thing, and comparing notes with each other can provide creative solutions even in these most challenging of times. We’ve heard providers discuss moving meal times outside, sharing tips for outdoor hand washing, and ideas for breaking into smaller groups as ways to give everyone more space to move and breathe.
Communicate with your families
Prior to your families return, outline with them how social distancing rules are supposed to work per your local regulations. Ask them to let their children know what to expect when they return to school, so the kids aren’t completely taken by surprise.
Thinking through these pieces will give parents a great deal of assurance that you’re working hard on a smooth reopening process, and the more confident parents feel, the more relaxed their children will also feel. Keep us posted on how things are going, and remember to reach out any time for the support of the Wonderschool Community.
Want to read more from this series? Click here to access additional articles on transitioning children and parents back into care.