Recognizing the need and importance of high-quality early childhood education for many families, Friends Center began its phased re-opening on June 15.
In order to move back to in-person learning while the risk of COVID is still a concern, Friends Center conducted an extensive evaluation, including parent surveys and consultations with the City of New Haven, The Office of Early Childhood, the Center for Disease Control and an emergency preparedness consultant. In response we have established many changes to our daily routines based on recommendations from CDC and the Institute for Childhood Preparedness. This webpage provides a summary of Friends Center’s COVID-19 operations manual, which provides the full scope and details of the adjustments established at Friends Center during this season.
Click here to read the East Grand Covid-19 operations manual
Click here to read the Blake Street Covid-19 operations manual
To keep our community safe, only children enrolled at Friends Center and essential personnel are permitted to enter Friends Center’s buildings. No delivery people, parents, visitors, board members or any other nonessential staff are allowed in the facilities at any time.
To maintain and protect health, all staff and children are screened at the beginning of each day, including a temperature check. Screenings for children are conducted at a designated screening station and include a series of questions for the adult caregiver and temperature screenings for each child.
The drop-off procedure is conducted entirely outside, in a tented area, and includes a health screening, sign-in, disinfection of lunch box and shoe cleaning. Drop-off and pick-up times have been staggered to avoid congestion and confusion. One adult is responsible for drop-off and pick-up each day, and must wear a mask at all times while on the Friends Center grounds.
Friends Center has always maintained a preschool ratio of 10 to 1 and an infant toddler ratio of 2.5 to 8 teachers to students. Due to the fact that reduced density is recommended to reduce the spread of COVID- 19, we have further reduced class sizes in accordance with the State of Connecticut Guidelines. Preschool groupings will not exceed 14 children with 2 teachers and Infant/ Toddler classrooms will have no more than 8 children per group with 3 teachers. Group sizes may be less in order to meet staffing ratios and recommended distancing guidelines.
Outdoor time has long been a priority at Friends Center. Due to the CDC recommendation that open air activities are best for limiting the potential spread of COVID-19, our daily schedule has been adjusted to include even more outside play. A typical daily schedule will be as follows:
|8:00 – 9:00
||Morning Drop Off and Hand Washing
||Outdoor Classroom Time
Potty Tries and Hand washing
Question of the Day
What’s the Weather?
Music and Movement
||Potty Tries and Hand Washing (one at a time)
|12:00 – 12:30
||Potty Tries and Hand Washing
|12:30 – 2:30
||Potty Tries and Hand Washing (staggered wake up)
|3:00 – 5:30
Focused Play and Exploration Time
To limit the amount of interactions across the Friends Center program, teachers are assigned the same group of children each day and do not rotate between their classrooms. Additionally, children do not merge groups at any point during the day.
Children will be spaced out with at least six feet between nap stations. Each children’s bedding (sheets, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags) is kept separately, stored in individually labeled bins, and washed weekly (at minimum).
Although no current evidence suggests food is associated with the transmission of the coronavirus, all teachers handling food continue to practice Friends Center’s strict food safety hygiene practices, as well as new protocols which include: staggered lunchtimes, tables and chairs arranged for social distancing, food items prepared in individual sizes and served with single-use plates and utensils, and hourly sanitization of all hard surfaces, including tables and countertops per CDC Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection guidance.
Friend Center Teachers wear designated work-only attire and put long hair up off the collar in a ponytail or other updo. Additionally, diapering procedures include thorough washing of hands and any soiled skin or surface, wearing gloves, and immediate replacement of any contaminated clothes.
Friends Center has established our Emotional Wellbeing Coordinator as an Onsite Safety Officer to provide oversight of our health and safety practices and ensure both the physical and emotional health of all staff and children in the facility. Throughout the day, the Safety Officer monitors each child for physical symptoms of illness and coordinates daily with our on-call nurse practitioner.
The Safety Officer also oversees the On Site Infection Control Staff, who are responsible for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting the common and high-touch areas of the building each hour. Friends Center uses a two-step approach to sanitize all surfaces. First, all surfaces are cleaned with a soap spray and paper towel wipe to remove dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces.
Although cleaning alone does not kill the germs, by removing them, it reduces the risk of spreading infection. After thorough cleaning, Friends Center applies a surface appropriate disinfectant, such as Clorox or Lysol wipes or spray, to kill any germs remaining on a surface after cleaning, further reducing the risk of spreading infection. Surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized only when children are not in the vicinity to reduce the risk of their exposure to the cleaning chemical.
Every evening Friends Center is cleaned according to CDC guidelines by Performance Environmental Cleaning Services (PECS). On the weekends, PECS utilizes a fogging system to fully disinfect the Friends Center facility.
All staff must wear masks at all times once they exit their car on Friends Center grounds, and will be provided with indoor shoes. No outside shoes will be permitted in the building. Staff are also given three designated work outfits to rotate throughout the week, with laundry service provided.
We have temporarily removed all shared experiences such as water play tables, as well as toys that are not easily cleaned like stuffed animals, toys with cloth, pillows. Toys and play areas are removed from service and/or thoroughly cleaned/sanitized in any transition between groups of children, and all toys are sanitized at the end of each day. Any infant toys that may be mouthed are sanitized between every child, with a cleaner appropriate for toys that may be mouthed.
In the event that a child exhibits symptoms while at school they will be placed in a designated isolation room. A parent/guardian will be called to come pick up the child immediately. If any child is experiencing: difficulty breathing, inability to keep down any liquids, chest pain or pressure, confusion or inability to awaken or bluish lips, emergency medical assistance will be requested. In the event that a member of the Friends Center community is diagnosed with COIVD-19, the Friends Center community, along with all local and state agencies, will be notified. Friends Center will then follow all guidelines from the local health department regarding closure, notifications, cleaning and disinfecting.