Impact and Insights – Directors of Louisiana Child Care Centers are Anxious to Help in the Reopening of the State
By Holly Harris
The Center for Development and Learning checked in with directors of child care centers throughout the state of Louisiana to check the pulse of the reopening process. Directors are as ready to reopen as everyone else, expressing many of the same concerns and anxieties. On one hand, there is an overall urgency to reopen; a need to get back to “normalcy and a routine”. On the other hand, there is an unsure and uneasy feeling of what lies ahead and how to maneuver through the health and safety minefield. The Center for Development and Learning is hosting a series of Director Focus Groups to address many of these concerns. The first of the series provided an opportunity to have respite centers share their experiences with other centers and the Louisiana Department of Education. The Department was also able to offer broad insight and clarification as needed.
Louisiana Child Care was never closed by the Governor; however, many programs opted to close for the safety of the staff. They have faced a reduction in group size and teacher-child ratio. Many child care programs chose to close and will be reopening various programs as the communities reopen and needs arise. The phased reopening of childcare centers will follow the White House’s Reopening America plan. Louisiana will reopen in phases as the state meets certain criteria. Throughout these phases, restrictions will be gradually relaxed.
Phase One – the current operating status will remain using enhanced health and safety guidelines, frequent cleaning and disinfecting, and enhanced restrictions on group sizes (group size of 5 for infants and 10 for all other ages, including adults).
Phase Two – the centers can follow BESE bulletin 137 guidelines on ratios and group sizes for children ages 2 and under. All other group sizes are limited to 25, including adults. It is expected that all other enhanced health and safety protocols (including, but not limited to, frequent cleaning, disinfecting and temperature checks) will continue in Phase Two.
Louisiana is entering into Phase 2 on June 5, 2020. Some Parishes are opting to stay in Phase 1.
Phase Three – the maximum group size restriction will be raised to Bulletin 137 guidelines, or 50, whichever is lower.
Louisiana will make an initial decision about entering into Phase 3 on June 26, 2020. Please see the Louisiana Department of Health for more guidance on this.
The Louisiana Department of Education has published the official Strong Start guidance to assist all programs and schools in the reopening and rebuilding process. It includes guidance on health, safety, operations, and business practices. Please note that items highlighted in blue are required, and other items should be considered recommended best practices.
Preparing families and children for the return to school is the final key to successfully reopening childcare in Louisiana. There are many things that both families and directors can do to help ease the transition for children. While the Stay at Home order has been a challenge for many adults, young children have spent this period within the walls of their favorite place, with their favorite people. Therefore, many young children have enjoyed this time. Transitioning back into childcare, into an environment that will look and feel different than the one they left, means there is a need to be sensitive to this concern.
Tinkergarden Blog has outlined how families and centers can work together to help children adapt to all of the changes that are going to happen prior to returning back to school. Taking their temperature at drop off, not being allowed to bring their bag or toys, not being walked in, social distancing and wearing masks are all examples of what changes children will be facing.
We also want to start highlighting promising practices in our upcoming director focus groups. Please share any promising practices, or exciting things your center or staff are doing by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early Childhood Specialist