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With the coronavirus pandemic temporarily closing Horizon Education Centers since late March, our team has worked tirelessly to prepare for the day we can once again open our doors to families.
Watching the governor’s daily updates at 2 p.m. have become the new normal. We are paying close attention to his guidelines and the directives he’s giving as he carefully reopens the state. We have adapted these guidelines into our own protocol as we plan for how these changes will affect child care. We are also taking parent concerns and feedback into consideration.
With our centers closed to the public, we have incorporated stringent sanitization guidelines. We are modeling best practices set by the state to ensure the safest environment for children and our employees when they return. We are also using this time to improve our facilities and have focused our extra time on vehicle maintenance, ensuring they meet the highest standards in transportation for children.
So what exactly will things look like when we reopen? Here is what we envision.
Our employees will wear masks and other PPE as necessary. Temperature checks will occur upon entering the building, and class sizes will be smaller than before. We anticipate changes in teacher-student ratios, class sizes and requirements around how many groups may occupy a room. We are paying close attention to ways we can accommodate this by possibly dividing large spaces, and are currently awaiting state guidance before taking action on this.
We have spent this time stocking up on supplies and equipment, particularly those that can be sanitized, and eliminating those that cannot, such as stuffed animals. We’ve invested in resources such as:
- Alcohol wipes
- Hand soap
- Paper towels
- Medical-grade disposable gloves
- Lab coats
- Button-down shirts
- Cloth and other masks
When we get the reopening date from the governor, we will then begin bringing our employees back into the centers two weeks prior to that date. We’ll start with the Center Directors and the Business Coordinators, who will help us determine how many children we can bring back into each center based on the new ratio guidelines provided by the governor. We do plan to give priority to full-time families, but unless otherwise directed by the state, slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We will also determine the appropriate number of staff members to bring back, per state guidelines for capacity and social distancing. We anticipate it being months before all families and staff can return.
One thing we know for sure is that we are not going back to the way the world was before. It will not be the status quo. Ohio has flattened the curve, but we have not eliminated the virus. We must all learn to live alongside COVID-19 and the changes it has brought our world as we know it. The world has changed, and we must learn to adapt.
We miss our employees and our families — it is far too quiet in the centers and on the playgrounds. As the days grow sunnier, we can’t wait until the day we can all be together again. We will continue to keep you updated every step of the way — we are all in this together. Thank you for your patience during the crisis, we look forward to seeing everyone back in the centers as soon as the governor allows for the reopening of regular child care licenses. Stay safe.