As COVID-19 rages on, educators and parents are considering new models of summer programming for school-aged children in the months ahead. In previous years, summer programs involved plenty of sports and learning activities at close quarters. This year, summer programs are changing the way they offer child care for kids whose parents are going back to work. Here are some of the adjustments you can expect when looking for a summer daycare program for your child.
All summer programs have registration limits, but this year they may be more stringent. One reason is because a small number of children will be easier to accommodate with physical distancing requirements that may be mandated by some states. Enrollment may also be lower than expected as parents opt to keep their kids at home or with a babysitter rather than risk exposing them to children who carry the COVID virus. Smaller class sizes are often beneficial in giving enrolled children opportunities for more direct teacher contact and closer observation as well as less waiting time for toys and activities.
More Streamlined Sports
By nature, athletic activities that include team sports are already structured. This year, however, daycare sports teams may be organized a little differently to maintain adequate distance between players. Contact sports may be avoided altogether or have certain restrictions placed on them. Athletic activities may use less shared equipment than in previous years. Instead, children’s sports will possibly include more running and less touching teamwork. Other kinds of competitive activities like computer games or talent shows could replace some of the more physical sports.
As can be seen in schools that are reopening, child care centers with summer programs will be maintaining more physical space between children. There will likely be six-foot distances marked on the floor for waiting in lines or for classroom movement and chair placement. Children will be reminded through verbal prompts as well as visual cues to keep back six feet or more from their classmates and also the teachers when possible. Bathroom breaks could be organized as sending two or three children at a time to the restrooms rather than the entire class. Areas designated for work and play both indoors and outside are probably going to be marked clearly for one or two students at a time.
Restricted Onsite Food Prep
As part of the new normal, many public schools are not preparing food onsite in the traditional cafeterias due to the increased of virus transmission with food handling. Instead, children who are enrolled in all-day care may be urged to bring packed lunches. Summer programming may coordinate bag lunches purchased daily from a deli or supermarket that parents can order and pay for in advance. A common refrigerator, microwave, or sink for washing utensils are not likely to be used. Snacks may be distributed as prepacked food like individual packets of crackers or chips with bottled water.
Enhanced Hygiene Requirements
Kids enrolled in summer programs will probably learn about personal hygiene as one of the program’s themes or units. Hand sanitizing products might be requested from parents, or the program might keep hand sanitizer on the premises for kids and staff to use. Masks may or may not be required for young students. It will depend on the state law and local health department policies. Frequent handwashing, wiping of desks and playthings, and other hygiene precautions can be expected.
Daily Health Monitoring
Another recognizable aspect of the new normal in children’s summer programming will be daily health checks similar to those conducted in public schools and some churches. Temperatures may be taken when the child arrives for the day and retaken if signs of illness like lethargy or frequent coughing are noticed. Children with COVID symptoms will be noted by the staff, who will inform the parents and recommend a COVID test or at-home quarantine for the requisite time period.
Summer programs for children will look different this year to keep everyone safe and healthy. Be prepared for adjustments like these when enrolling your child in a summer childcare program.