iCare Software

How To Plan For A Healthy Year

Child at a childcare center prepared for COVID-19 with hand sanitizer and a face mask.

Childcare center management has never been an easy task. And now the CDC guidelines for safety and sanitation could make administration even harder this school year. Now is the time to begin building your daycare strategic plan for staffing, scheduling, parent communication and classroom arrangements for social distancing and sanitization.  

If you start preparing now, you’ll have a seamless and simple process of returning to the classroom. Plus, you’ll put parents’ minds at ease that you plan to keep their families safe and healthy throughout the school year. 

Daycare strategic plan for staffing (and potential sick time) 

Based on the CDC guidelines, staffing is a bit more challenging during the pandemic. You need a daycare strategic plan to handle your childcare staffing, given the recommendation to keep teachers in the same classrooms all day.  

At a glance, this is what you’ll need to include in your daycare strategic plan for staffing. 

  1. Connect staffing to children’s schedules to save on payroll expenses. 
  1. Create a detailed plan for what to do if a teacher tests positive for COVID-19. 
  1. Have a backup staffing plan for what to do if a teacher or student starts showing COVID-19 symptoms mid-day. 

The largest challenge childcare center management faces when staffing the center is avoiding overstaffing that increases payroll expenses. To avoid overstaffing your childcare center and any one classroom at a time, tie staffing to children’s attendance data. 

Childcare software helps childcare owners see the enrollment and each child’s expected arrival and pickup time. This way, your childcare can schedule staff appropriately. 

Another consideration you’ll want to include in your strategic plan is what to do if a teacher tests positive for COVID-19. You can expect that teacher to be out for at least a week and will need to have substitute teachers who can step in to help. While you certainly hope this doesn’t happen in your center, you need to plan for it so you can act quickly and reassure parents.  

A final staffing consideration during the COVID-19 pandemic is how to adjust your classrooms if a teacher or child starts showing symptoms mid-day. You need to remove the teacher from the classroom and sanitize as best you can immediately. Ideally, you’d move those children into an empty classroom elsewhere while you sanitize to best protect them.  

Scheduling and attendance 

Each state’s restrictions on class sizes are different, so be sure to research your new requirements before setting up your classrooms in your child care administration software. But once you know the rules, restructure your classrooms.  

Here’s a glance at what you’ll need to prepare for this school year concerning scheduling and attendance. 

  1. Research your state’s classroom sizes and teacher-child ratios before setting up your childcare management software for the school year. 
  1. Create a plan for how to offer virtual classes through cloud-based software, like iCare Software. 
  1. Rework your classroom schedules to allow for social distancing and sanitization. 
  1. Review your school district’s schedules to make plans for your after-school care. 

Before, you might have had two classrooms for 3-year-old preschool but now need three classrooms to meet your state’s guidelines. Or, you might have children attending remotely via preschool virtual classroom software, like iCare Software, to meet your in-person classroom restrictions. 

You might need to adjust your daily schedules for each classroom for a variety of reasons. These reasons might include staggering each classroom’s playground time to allow for better social distancing, allowing time between activities to sanitize surfaces and toys, and allowing more time for each activity since children will be socially distanced.  

Review your school district’s in-class schedule to adjust your after-school care to meet these needs. Some school districts are opting for half days, others are only holding in-class sessions two or three days a week, etc.  

After-school care is an essential service for parents and these parents might lean on you even more with these adjusted school district schedules. Adapt your tuition rates and attendance to meet these changing needs. 

Childcare center management parent communication 

As you make your adjustments for the upcoming school year, you need to start communicating your plans to parents. By sharing your plans with parents, you can put their minds at ease while adjusting them to your new policies and procedures. 

  1. Drop off, check-in and pickup procedure adjustments. 
  1. Sanitization practices and social distancing to protect staff and students. 
  1. What happens if a child runs a fever or shows any COVID-19-related symptoms. 
  1. How they’ll get updates on their child’s day when they aren’t interacting directly with the teachers. 

Start sharing information about drop off, check-in and pickup procedures now. CDC guidelines state that children should be dropped off at the door, inside the lobby, or outside the classroom to avoid contact with childcare staff and other students.  

Parents are probably used to dropping their child off directly inside of their child’s classroom and interacting with the teacher briefly. Start adjusting them to the idea that they’ll need to handle that communication digitally through your childcare software to avoid in-person interactions.  

Prepare teachers to check their messages often to keep the lines of communication open with parents, so they still feel connected to their child’s education. 

You should also be sharing your updated cleaning and sanitization practices with parents. While parents won’t directly have a role in these practices, they’ll appreciate knowing that you’re doing such great work to protect their child.  

Within your handbook of policies and procedures, you likely have a timeline listed for how long parents have to get their child once they are diagnosed with a fever. However, you might have to shorten that timeframe during the pandemic to be more conservative since you’ll need to find a way to isolate the child from his or her classmates. This can be in a separate room with a teacher supervising or in a cot in the corner of the classroom at least six feet from other children. 

Finally, you’ll want to share with parents how their child’s teacher will be communicating with them. Explain what parents can expect to see daily, weekly, monthly, etc. during these times where events and parent-teacher conferences are discouraged. Setting clear communication expectations now will help your childcare center, parents and students thrive in the school year. 

Classroom arrangements for social distancing and sanitization 

Before the school year begins, you need to review each classroom set up in light of social distancing and sanitization practices. As you go through your classroom, consider these three key areas of the classroom. 

  1. Remove all toys that you cannot sanitize. 
  1. Tape out social distanced sections on the floor for each child to sit during circle time. 
  1. Move cots six feet apart and put children head to toe to reduce potential virus spread. 

Go through all the toys that are inside of your classroom. Any that you can’t wipe down or soak for sanitization purposes should be removed from your classroom. You’ll need to plan to sanitize each toy after a child plays with it before another child can play with it. 

Next, tape out socially distanced sections for a child to sit in for circle time. These spaces should be separated by six feet per the CDC guidelines. While you might not be able to keep children from playing with one another all the time, circle time is an opportunity where you can. 

Finally, do your best to place all cots and cribs six feet apart. Placing children head to toe can help with getting this distance appropriately. 

Helping childcare centers prepare for the school year 

At iCare Software, we’ve developed three tools to help childcare centers adapt to required changes during the pandemic. These three tools offer crucial assistance for taking attendance safely, monitoring a child’s symptoms and engaging with children who can’t be in the classroom with you.

  • Contactless Check-in Mobile App: the iCare Software contactless check-in app allows parents to use their smartphone to check their child in each day. This way, you won’t have shared pens or high-touch areas in your childcare but you will have verified attendance each day.
  • Pandemic Protocol Management: at check-in, ask parents about COVID-19 symptoms and document the child’s temperature. If the child has an elevated temperature or a COVID-19 symptom, childcare administrators will get a push notification alerting them to the situation.
  • Virtual Classroom: this school year has required teachers to be very flexible in how they teach. Allow teachers to engage with children both in the classroom and remote using the iCare Virtual Classroom. With the push of a button, teachers can engage students online while still teaching in the classroom.

If you’d like to see how iCare Software can make for a school year, schedule a demo.

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