The Earth Tortoise School
Child Care Regulations during COVID-19
Child Care Regulations during COVID-19
In these uncertain times, it is normal to feel apprehensive about sending your child out into the world. But rest assured, we will do everything in our power to keep your children, your family, and our whole community safe and healthy. As this virus will be with us for the long haul, all risk cannot be avoided but by following the protocols below we can minimize our chances of exposure and transmission.
● Emergency Child Care Approval Required
At this time, all child care programs must be approved to operate as an Emergency Care Program - meaning we have to follow specific guidelines. To ensure this, the State is requiring that we apply for an emergency license in addition to our regular annual license. This process includes a special visit from our licensing agent with training provided specific to these safety procedures.
● Group Size and Stable Community Groups
Group sizes are limited to a maximum of 10 children at this time. These groups must be self-contained, “stable” groups with specific designated adults. Children and adults from one group cannot interact with members of another group. This is the State’s way of enacting “social distancing” at the early childhood level. Each stable group can be viewed in much the same way as your family unit - you do not wear a mask or maintain 6 feet of space between yourselves and the other member of your household as you share the same germs anyway. But you limit your contact with members outside your group to only the essential outings.
These stable groups will stay in one designated space - shared spaces are not allowed at this time. Playground spaces are used on a rotating basis so that two groups are not outside together. If a “floater” is needed to relieve the teacher for break, the floater must wear a mask and wash their hands upon arrival and departure of the classroom.
Each classroom will have its own entry door. Infants will be dropped off through their emergency exit door. Toddlers will arrive through the back door. And primary age children will enter through the front doors. Children will wash their hands and have a health screening before entering the classroom. We are required to check for, ask about, and record your family’s health symptoms each day including fever and cough, as well as any potential exposure to someone with the coronavirus. Children cannot have had any medication if they are coming to school as any use of medication could mask COVID 19 symptoms. We expect everyone is truthful and transparent about their symptoms, medication use, and possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Additionally, we are required to record who dropped off and picked up each child on a daily basis. This person needs to be as consistent as possible. This will allow the state to conduct contact tracing should we have a positive diagnosis in our community.
● Enforcing Our Health Policy
We have always been required to send children who have a fever, cough, congestion, etc. home. In the past, we have been able to make a judgement call regarding lingering symptoms such as a cough or runny nose since young children will often have mild cold symptoms throughout the year. However, we will not be able to make these decisions at this time. Children with any cough or congestion, lethargy, shortness of breath, etc. cannot be at school. If your child has ANY symptoms, you must keep them home.
● State Requirements Around Self-Isolating due to Symptoms
Anyone with a fever or cough must isolate themselves for a minimum of 10 days AND until the symptoms have disappeared for at least 72 hours without the use of medication.
● Handwashing and Sanitizing through the Day
We will continue to wash hands and sanitize the classroom consistently throughout the day. We have always done but now it will be more. More. More. More. In addition to the scheduled times of the day when a teacher sanitizes everything in the classroom, materials are wiped down as much as possible between children's use of them.
● Sending Home Laundry
At this time, we must send home all soiled articles of clothing to be washed at home. We cannot launder anything with a child’s bodily fluids on it at school. Your child’s wet sack will be sent home daily and a fresh stock of clothes, underwear, diapers, etc. will need to be brought back each morning.
● Food at School
The Earth Tortoise School will provide daily snacks for all the children. However, we cannot provide school lunches (as we hoped to do) at this time. Each child must bring their own lunch. Lunches must contain all 5 food groups, be prepared in a way that is manageable for the children, and without “snacks”. As we settle into our routines and acquire the enrollment needed to make our lunch program financially viable, we will reassess when we can begin providing school lunch.
● After School Program (4-5pm)
We cannot offer the After School program at this time. We will be using the last hour of the day to disinfect the classrooms. The After School program will resume once the State has lifted all COVID 19 restrictions.
● Staff Expectations
All staff are trained in the above State of Oregon health and safety requirements and The Earth Tortoise School’s expectations and responsibilities. Hand washing and sanitizing is strictly monitored and enforced. Staff will adhere to the same requirements families and children do in relation to monitoring and reporting symptoms, health checks, contact tracing, handwashing, self-isolation requirements, etc. as well as staying with their stable groups and following the State of Oregon’s health guidelines outside of school.
● Absences, School Closures and Tuition Expectations
It may be necessary to close the school should the State direct us to do so either because of positive cases in our community or because of a state-wide mandate. In this event, any prepaid monthly tuition will not be reimbursed. If the closure extends into the following month, tuition will be invoiced at 50% of your enrollment schedule. If you are not able to make the payment or wish to not make the payment, it is assumed that you are disenrolling which may result in the loss of your child/children’s spot. Additionally, tuition is not prorated in the event of your child’s absence. Please come talk to us about your individual situation.
In effort to ensure the health of all members of our community and the longevity of our program,all families are asking to adhere to the above guidelines set forth by The Earth Tortoise School and the State of Oregon. Additionally, it is expected that all members of the household are practicing the health standards laid by the State of Oregon in relation to COVID - 19. This includes, but is not limited to, maintaining a closed circle of contact, social distancing, wearing a mask in public when social distancing is not possible, being truthful about possible contact with those exposed to the coronavirus, practicing sound hand washing procedures, monitoring symptoms, being truthful about symptoms experienced, and staying home when necessary. Disregard for such health practices can result in the termination of your enrollment with The Earth Tortoise School.