July 31, 2020
Dear Playschool Parents,
It is with heavy hearts that the Board of the Bedrock Playschool has decided to remain closed indefinitely. Therefore, we will not be accepting registrations for Fall 2020 programs. This was a tough decision, but after hours of discussion and trying to plan, we feel it is ultimately best for the students. We will be watching for any relaxation of the guidelines, and with that, hopefully will be able to open later in the year.
Our playschool is a licensed program. We have to follow the Alberta Health Services Health and Safety Childcare Guidelines. In order to re-open, we are required to be in compliance with applicable zoning, health and safety legislation, including the Child Care Licensing Act and Child Care Regulation. Because we are working with 3 & 4 year old children, the guidelines are very strict. In our opinions, it has essentially taken the “play” out of playschool.
We can follow the guidelines when it comes to things like the plumbing in our classroom and staff screening. The next guideline is in regards to cohorts. We are allowed 30 in a cohort. That includes children and staff (like teachers and cleaning staff). Staff can only be assigned to one cohort. We can’t mix cohorts – which means we have to completely clean the playschool every night (3-4 hours of cleaning). That adds an additional $1200 in costs per month of operation. We are not permitted to have parent volunteers either. In essence we would be running four playschool programs per week. And they can not mix or mingle in any way (people, toys, equipment, bathrooms). And since we don’t have an additional adult in the classroom, we’d be forced to reduce the class sizes. Basically, we would be forced to operate at a loss.
In terms of procedures for drop off and pick ups, we have to ensure they support physical distancing. We would have to stagger entry and limit the number of people picking up/dropping off in the entry areas. You would have to be on time for your entry/pick up. There would be zero flexibility.
If a child develops symptoms while at the playschool, the child would have to be isolated in a separate room. The staff member would then be required to wear a mask and any item the child touched, would have to be immediately removed for sanitizing, all the while they are teaching the other students. The sick child (even if it’s just a runny nose) should then be tested for Covid-19 to confirm that it is not the source of their symptoms before returning to playschool.
We have to ensure the program’s activities do not violate a public health order. So, no more hugs or handshakes. We can’t sit together for carpet time or have several people at a centre. No more field trips, holiday events, performances, or celebrations. We have to discontinue use of the items such as soft toys, play clothes, sensory tables like sand and water tables or playdough, puzzles, books, etc. Art would require everyone to have their own “box” of supplies as we can’t share glue or paint. Where would we store individual boxes of sand, playdough, art supplies, etc and this would come at a significant cost for materials as well.
When we consider the fundamentals of playschool – learning, SHARING, and playing together, with these guidelines, we just can’t operate a playschool in the fun ways we are used to!
Think about dropping your 3 year old off at the door the first day, you can’t stay. If they are sad/crying, we can’t hug them. They have to be fully independent in the bathroom. If they have an accident, we can’t help them change into dry clothes. This is heart wrenching to think about!
It is just not fair to your child for us to operate a program under these guidelines. Yes, we could adapt, but we don’t want to compromise the program you’ve come to love and support. And the tuition cost would go up and class times shortened.
Then there are the other financial considerations- what happens if you have to stay at home for two weeks? What if the teacher does? Are we refunding each time? We are a not for profit society ran by volunteers- and that is a lot of extra hours trying to calculate who owes what!
So, until there are some changes to these guidelines, we will postpone opening.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kim Suntjens, President, directly at 403-820-2100.
We are disappointed as well.
The Bedrock Playschool Board of Directors &
Teachers, Martha Chambers & Stephanie MacDermid
July 31, 2020