(last updated November 30, 2020)
As a parent, you may be wondering how we plan to keep each child, parent, and staff member safe on our campus in the midst of the pandemic and the aftermath. Below is a list of the protocols that we are putting in place, (as guided by the NJ Department of Children and Families and the Department of Health,) as well as a list of what you need to know, as we will be asking for your assistance and cooperation during this time of change.
First and foremost, we want to thank you for your diligence, and to remind you that as the situation evolves, so, too, will our protocols. We have put into place several different operating plans, depending on the severity of the outbreak in our area, that we will move between in order to facilitate a healthy environment for everyone among the changing requirements.
Our main focus during this challenging and ever-changing time is on keeping our enrolled children as emotionally happy, and physically healthy as possible. We aim to maintain a consistent level of care, within a stable, predictable environment which for us, as a nature school includes lots of outdoor time, worm discoveries, and laughter! The guidelines below are in line with those currently recommended by the CDC, the NJ Department of Children and Families, as well as the Department of Health.
Please contact a school administrator with questions. (updated November 30, 2020)
Painted Oak Nature School will:
● Keep group sizes as small as possible with a max of no more than 10-12 children. 2 teachers will guide each group in the Nature Preschool, while 1 teacher will lead each group in the Primary School.
● Have our students remain entirely separate from the public to the best of our abilities.
● Have a specific drop off zone and pick up zone designated for each class.
● Keep our program outdoors as much as possible, which is the safest place to be during this time! (As always, we will have a space for shelter if necessary due to the weather.) Masks will be required if we go indoors.
● Space our tree stump seating further apart than previously placed to enable each child a distance barrier during gathering times.
● Staff will actively monitor children throughout the day for symptoms of any kind, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, rash on body including toes/feet, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting and children exhibiting signs of illness should be separated from the larger group.
● Provide only materials that are easily cleaned, limit sharing of materials, and clean them frequently: as necessary throughout the day, as well as daily at the end of the day. These materials will only be used by the same group of children.
● While outside, teachers will wear masks around their necks, but not on their faces, unless physical distancing is not possible, then they will raise their masks to provide care or comfort to children as needed. If we need to come inside the building at any point teachers will be required to wear masks.
● Children will not be required to wear masks while outside however it is highly recommended that your child wear a face covering when close to other children, regardless of being inside, or outside. We will respect, honor, and support family preference during outdoor times. If we need to come inside the building at any point children will be required to wear masks (per Governor Murphy’s mandate 8/3/2020) If parents would rather their child not be inside the building/wear a mask they can be notified and pick their child up.
● We will allow children to interact normally-however in limited numbers. We feel that it is important for children to be children, so we will not interfere with their play unless it feels unsafe to the staff members.
● Ask a series of short questions daily at drop off to help minimize possible transmission of coronavirus, including a temperature reading, as we will track each child’s temperature daily. The same protocols are conducted of the staff before beginning their day with the children.
● Toys that children have placed in their mouths or that are otherwise contaminated by body fluids will be removed, and will not be returned until they have been thoroughly cleaned.
● Provide hand washing stations in every outdoor classroom.
● Children will be monitored while handwashing at appropriate times throughout the day (upon arrival, before and after eating, after toileting, after coughing or sneezing, etc)
We ask that you make sure to:
● Take your child’s temperature before leaving for school-if they have a fever, please keep them home. We will have thermometers available on-site to take their temperature upon arrival, but anyone with a fever will not be allowed to attend school until they are 24 hours fever free with no fever-reducing medication
● Ensure that your child has been fever free for 24 hours prior to drop off, without the aid of any fever reducing medications
● We ask that parents wear masks on campus whenever social distancing is not an option
● Let us know if anyone in your home, or anyone who has been in direct contact with your child, has tested positive for COVID- 19 so that we may take steps to ensure the health of all others in the group
● Keep extra clothes in a wet bag inside your child’s backpack, as well as have a second, empty wet bag for any soiled or contaminated clothing - https://tinyurl.com/y97rp2o2
● Pack your child food that is easy to eat out on the trails. If they require utensils, please provide them, as we will not have any with us. Parents will provide morning snack. For children in the Primary School and staying until 3pm, parents will also provide lunch.
● Keep in mind that although the following policies and symptoms apply mainly to our students, we ask that if you exhibit any of the symptoms below, that you keep yourself removed from campus until you are no longer exhibiting symptoms for 24 hours
● Include a mask or two in your child's backpack each day if you are okay with masks, and/or even prefer it in the event that we find ourselves inside unexpectedly in the case of a sudden thunderstorm.
What you and your child can expect at drop off:
Drop off and pick up will be at designated areas only. Teachers will ask you a few short questions each day, so please know to anticipate them, and be ready with answers:
1) What is your child’s temperature? Have they had a fever within the past 24 hours?
2) Does your child have a persistent cough and/or any shortness of breath?
3) Does your child have a rash of any kind?
4) Has your child been given any fever reducing medication in the past 24 hours?
5) Has any household member shown symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath?
6) Have you had any close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
7) Is anyone in the home considered COVID-19 Essential Personnel?
You will be called to pick your child up if they have:
● Fever (100.4)
● Persistent cough
● Difficulty breathing
Or if we see 2 or more of the following symptoms:
● Sore throat
● New loss of taste or smell
● Muscle aches
● Rash or discoloration of skin
The above list is in addition to our regular policy on communicable diseases- “A center serving well children shall not permit a child who has any of the illnesses or symptoms of illness specified below to be admitted to the center on a given day unless medical diagnosis from a health care provider, which has been communicated to the center in writing, or verbally with a written follow-up, indicates that the child poses no serious health risk to himself or herself or to other children."
Such illnesses or symptoms of illness shall include, but not be limited to, any of the following:
● Severe pain or discomfort
● Acute diarrhea, characterized as twice the child's usual frequency of bowel movements with a change to a looser consistency within a period of 24 hours, or bloody diarrhea
● Two or more episodes of acute vomiting within a period of 24 hours
● Lethargy that is more than expected tiredness
● Yellow eyes or jaundiced skin
● Red eyes with discharge
● Infected, untreated skin patches
● Difficult rapid breathing or severe coughing
● Skin rashes in conjunction with fever or behavior changes
● Weeping or bleeding skin lesions that have not been treated by a health care provider
● Mouth sores with drooling
● Stiff neck In Case of Exposure
● Children or staff with a fever (100.4 F or higher), cough, or shortness of breath will be excluded from the center.
Health Policies & Procedures:
Children with household members who are known to have COVID-19 will also be excluded from the center for 14 days. PONS will not prorate or provide refunds of tuition if your child has to be excluded from the school due to a positive test result of COVID-19 of a child, parent or staff member. If a child develops symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4 or higher, cough or shortness of breath) while at the center, a school staff member will immediately separate the child from the other children until the ill child can leave the center. Parents will be expected to pick up the child within 45 minutes of being notified. If symptoms persist or worsen, we will encourage you to call your healthcare provider for further guidance.
Please report to a school administrator immediately if your child is diagnosed with COVID-19. If a child tests positive for COVID-19, you should contact the local health jurisdiction to identify the close contacts who will need to quarantine. It is likely that all members of the infected child’s classroom would be considered close contacts. Upon notification of a confirmed case of COVID-19 among our staff, parents, or children, we will consider closing that classroom, if not the whole school, at least temporarily (e.g. for 14 days, or possibly longer if advised by local health officials). PONS will not prorate or provide refunds of tuition if we temporarily close due to a positive test result of COVID-19 of a child, parent or staff member. If the infected individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 spent minimal time (i.e. 10 minutes or less) in close contact with those in the child care facility, the facility may consider closing for 2-5 days to do a thorough cleaning and disinfecting and to continue to monitor ill individuals. PONS will not prorate or provide refunds of tuition if we are closing due to a positive test result of COVID-19 of a child, parent or staff member.
If a staff member or a child has symptoms of COVID-19, or is in close contact of someone with COVID-19, they can return to the child care facility when the following conditions are met:
If the individual had a fever, then 3 days after the fever ends AND improvement is observed from the initial symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath)
If an individual believes they have had close contact to someone with COVID-19 but are not currently sick, they should notify a school administrator and monitor their health for fever, cough, and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day they were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. They should not go to work or school, and should avoid public places for 14 days.
The guidelines above are in line with those currently recommended by the CDC, the NJ Department of Children and Families, as well as the Department of Health. Please contact a school administrator with questions. (updated November 30, 2020)
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