A Day in the Life of a Preschooler:
Before COVID: Greeting your teacher with a HUUUUUGE hug
During COVID: Saying good morning with heart hands, foot taps, and air hugs
Before COVID: Getting inches away from your best buddy and sharing a laugh
During COVID: Keeping “airplane arms” distance from your best buddy and sharing a laugh
Before COVID: Sharing a toy with your neighbor
During COVID: Playing with a toy that can only be used by you
Before COVID: Cozying up next to your friend during nap time
During COVID: Spacing your mats away from one another and looking directly at your friend’s feet instead of her face
Such is the experience in Early Childhood Education (ECE) during a global pandemic!
As it turns out, being adorable, sweet, and tiny won’t immunize your daily routine from being impacted by COVID. That’s where Fairmont’s remarkable teachers come in, working hard to keep the children’s day as normal as possible.
Following CDPH (California Department of Public Health) Guidance, all students, including our preschoolers, are required to wear fabric face coverings throughout their unless eating, drinking, or napping. “We thought it was going to be hard for the kiddos to keep their masks on and wear them correctly,” said Tammy Huebner, Preschool Director at the San Juan Capistrano campus. “We didn’t want to be the mask police. But as it turns out, we didn’t need to be — the kids are doing great!”
Anaheim Hills’ Preschool Director Talia Lerma agrees. “They’ve adjusted so well to all of the changes in routine, whether it’s keeping their distance from one another, washing their hands frequently, or having their temperatures checked.”
While safety protocols are necessary and fully enforced at Fairmont, they have the potential to be at odds with some of the main goals of early education, such as teaching children to work together, play together, and share with one another. Once again, Fairmont teachers come to the rescue! “We’ve gotten creative about keeping our students safe, while still focusing on their developmental and academic needs,” said Mrs. Huebner. “For instance, although they can’t share their toys, we can encourage them to play together with similar toys, six feet apart.”
Another area where Fairmont’s ECE staff shines is in maintaining a strong connection with parents, despite the limitations that COVID has imposed (e.g., dropping their children off from their cars, as opposed to walking them inside). “It’s hard for parents of children of this age not to see what’s going on,” said Mrs. Lerma. One way Fairmont has addressed this issue is by employing “Tadpoles,” a platform which gives parents a window into their child’s day. Teachers connect with parents on a daily basis, sharing photos, videos, and notes. So although COVID may have revoked parents’ invitation to be physically on campus, Fairmont’s staff has provided an open invitation for them to be there virtually.
At the end of the day, ensuring that our students and staff remain safe and healthy is of paramount concern.
In order to reopen after last spring’s stay at home order, Fairmont had to submit a plan which demonstrated how we would protect our community, and follow state and local guidance to minimize the spread of the virus. This is a sampling of the COVID protocols which were put in place:
- Health questionnaire
- Modified drop-off and pick-up procedures
- Temperature screening
- Social distancing
- Campus closed to all but students, faculty and staff
- Hand sanitizing stations and designated times for hand washing
- Enhanced cleaning schedules throughout the day, including classrooms, restrooms, halls and outdoor areas
- Antimicrobial products applied to outdoor play equipment
- Touchless restroom fixtures
- Students remain in small groups to allow for contact tracing
- Extra furniture in classrooms removed to ease traffic flow
- Carpets marked so children sit apart at proper distance
- No sharing of materials
- Comprehensive COVID communication plan
Our youngest learners have proven to be just as resilient during COVID as their older counterparts. Do you have any stories about how your preschooler has adjusted to the “new normal”? If so, we’d love to hear from you below!