With Covid-19 lockdown measures still in place, creches and Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres have to figure out new ways to protect the little ones, while also trying to appease parents’ concerns. Many are either still very doubtful, or have decided to deregister their children from school.
Also Read: Yes, I deregistered my toddler from school
The department of social development released guidelines on the preparation and planning that needs to be put in place before they can officially reopen last week.
An official date for the reopening is yet to be announced, but here are some of the ways some are going about doing things in a new way.
These are the measures that nursery schools have put in place
To ensure daily cleaning and hygiene protocols, some centres and facilities plan to open a little earlier so that everything is tip-top and ready for the children when they arrive at school. No after-school activities will be allowed.
To avoid parents and children congregating outside, they’ll allow some flexibility in the mornings when you need to drop off and collect your child.
Children will need to line up with their parents to have their temperature taken before entering the premises, so some schools have already marked the requisite social distance required with fun stickers.
At Tic Toc Nursery School, they’ve added an element of fun by putting up a large canvas tent painted with fun Covid-19 characters at the entrance of the school premises. Children will have to wipe their feet on a special sanitising doormat that looks like a patch of grass before they step inside where staff will take their temperature before being taken to class by their teacher.
Teachers are setting up classrooms differently for the children coming back, some having organised desk stations with transparent desk dividers.
Squares or circles have also been marked out with duct tape to allow for social distancing for individual floor activities. Soft toys, fantasy corners, dress up and construction corners which could be difficult to wash and sanitise every day have been removed for safety.
At Petra’s Preschool, Infant and Toddler Centre, children will be kept in “bubbles” with a teacher in charge.
“Each child will have their toys and activities set out for them at their desk by their teacher when they arrive each day,” said Petra Queiros, principal of the centre.
Serving of meals
At Greenpark Nursery School food and drink will be served to the children at their desk station by the kitchen staff on individual covered trays. Once the child is finished, plates, cups, and cutlery will be placed in a big plastic tub, which will then be collected by the kitchen staff to be washed.
Joan Tindale, principal of the school advises other schools to look into buying or even hiring a commercial dishwasher for their centres.
“Dishes can be washed in 5-10 minutes cycles at a very high temperature to kills germs more effectively than just normal soap and warm water.”
One thing’s for certain, there’ll be more structured learning activities, and less free play to accommodate all the sanitisation that has to take place throughout the day and social distancing guidelines.
The Department has been firm that all sand and ball pits have to be closed off or emptied. and recommends that only one class uses the playground at a time. However, Tic Toc Nursery School has divided its large playground into baby, toddler and pre-school sections with temporary fencing.
“We’ll stagger outdoor play and each teacher will supervise her own class in such a way that they each get a turn to play on different things.”
The equipment will be thoroughly cleaned each morning before the children arrive, and also after each break, she says.
With all the handwashing that has to happen, each teacher will supervise her own class when it comes to toilet and bathroom routine. No washcloths will be allowed, and the children will have to wash their hands with liquid hand wash and use paper towels or ‘air-dry’ them afterwards.
Wearing of masks
All teachers are required to wear a cloth mask and|or protective face shield at all times but according to department guidelines children under the age of five will not be compelled to do so because it’s so difficult to enforce at that age.
“We’ve managed to source some really cool cloth masks as well as bucket hats with transparent visors they can wear at school. While they don’t have to wear one, they will still be encouraged to wear one if they want to,” said Diane.