How to Keep Your Daycare Safe During a Pandemic — PikMyKid

Without a vaccine for COVID-19, herd immunity is virtually impossible. Thus, some pre-pandemic Daycare routines and practices could lead to an outbreak of the virus (or another virus).

Preliminary studies show that children seem to not be as susceptible to severe consequences from COVID-19. They can be asymptomatic carriers and infect people who are at a greater risk of complications.

Learn more about how COVID-19 Affects Children from the Mayo Clinic: COVID-19 (coronavirus) in babies and children

Daycares could also be a breeding ground for simultaneous cases of the virus. These could overwhelm our already exhausted healthcare systems.

Practical Advice for Keeping Daycare Centers Open Safely During a Pandemic:

Increase hygiene at your daycare center

Around the world, hygiene (especially hand hygiene) has become more important now than ever before. But, there is more hygiene preventing COVID-19 than just handwashing. Childcare centers on a global scale have had to increase their janitorial practices and sanitize frequently touched items on a daily basis.

Hand washing

Disinfect and clean your daycare regularly

Keeping hands clean is just one step in a practicable sanitization routine. Another important step is disinfecting and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and toys.

Along with disinfecting what you can, discourage sharing items that are hard to clean. Sharing is an important concept for children to learn, but when there’s a pandemic raging, it’s not as important. Keeping children safe and healthy is paramount.

Ventilation

Opening the windows in classrooms will increase ventilation and lower germ spread. While in Denmark, many teachers are holding their classes outside. Increasing airflow and slowing the spread of germs. Encourage children to play outside when the weather permits.

Teach children how to cover their coughs and sneezes

Socially distant drop off and dismissal at daycare

Practicing a physically distant dismissal is another step to slow the spread of germs.

In physically distant dismissal, parents are encouraged to stay in their cars in lines. Software is used to know which parents are where in the lines. Notifications are sent to the appropriate staff members who dismiss each child at the appropriate time.

Stagger drop off and dismissal

Staggering dismissal times and having multiple dismissal locations enhances other social distancing procedures. Digital dismissal settings can be used to adjust the staggered dismissal times by age and prevent parents from “announcing” pick up for children at the incorrect time.

Parent walk-up

Daycares in cities typically don’t have the space to facilitate a typical car line. That’s why we’ve made sure our app has modules and settings to account for alternative pick up methods.

PikMyKid can help with this by working with your staff to create ‘zones’ around your center where kids can be picked up from. That way, the pickup guardians and parents can be spread out around campus to encourage distancing. Staggering the pickup times at each zone can easily double the number of zones you have, further limiting the interactions in one area.

Be aware of state, district, and national health regulations for daycare centers

A few websites to keep an eye on for updates to health regulations are:

Along with being aware of health regulations, daycares have a responsibility to communicate with health officials about outbreaks of illness.

Emergency alert software enables seamless communication between you, health officials, and other necessary personnel. You can set it up to automatically alert your health officials at important points surrounding viral outbreaks. I.E. when there’s been a sudden rise in cases or symptoms on campus.

Conduct daily health checks at your daycare

Have a designated point of contact for staff and children who arrive with COVID-19 like symptoms. Along with a designated space for anyone with symptoms to stay until they can leave the premises. Thus limiting the spread of illness further.

Have systems in place for seamless communication between staff and families. Our program enables you to communicate with parents about social distancing guidelines.

Enhance social distancing at your daycare

Encourage your daycare staff who are at a greater risk of complications from COVID-19 or another virus, to stay home.

Or offer options that put them at a lower risk. Limiting their contact with others, working from home, modifying their responsibilities, etc…,

Make changes to leave policies and absenteeism that will encourage people to stay away from your facility when they’re sick to keep viruses from becoming pandemics.

Stay home

Face covering for daycare staff

The CDC and other health officials recommend that the staff at Daycare centers wear masks to slow the spread of a virus. Masks can be used for children over the age of two but it is difficult for children to wear them for long periods of time.

Masks slow the spread of a pandemic because many viruses are spread through respiratory droplets. They prevent those droplets from passing from person to person.

Keep children and staff apart

Smaller ‘class’ sizes and keep groups of children together. And, they mean that fewer kids are interacting on a daily basis. Daycare staff members can also manage their “classes” easier.

Being prepared for a second wave and/or future pandemics to hit your daycare center

Preparing for a return to normal daycare operations means being aware of the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 hitting. This virus is new and we don’t really know how it affects humans. Every day we are learning more. But we don’t know if a second wave will come.

Any conversations and plans about returning to your campus need to include a plan for the possibility of a second wave.

These decisions need to be made before a crisis hits again. Even if there is no ‘second wave’ with COVID-19 (which would be amazing.) There will be pandemics in the future. Daycares need to reopen (or stay open) with a plan for how they will handle the next one.

Originally published at https://www.pikmykid.com on May 28, 2020.