Health and safety is our number one priority at Brooklyn Sandbox and in doing so, we recognize that we can’t do it alone. Ensuring the health of our families is a community effort. We’ve asked our families for partnership in following city and state guidelines wearing a mask at all times when outside the home, maintaining physical distancing and minimizing interaction in large groups. In addition to these guidelines, families have agreed to COVID-19 testing in order to enter our school community.
Over the past few months, in conjunction with guidelines from the CDC, the NY State and NYC Department of Health and in collaboration with Early Childhood program leaders across Brooklyn, the following changes were put into action to ensure the health and safety of the children, the families and the staff.
These guidelines are intended to set forth expectations of procedure and policy during this evolving health crisis. If at any point revised information becomes available from the CDC or licensing bodies, these guidelines will be amended to reflect the most up-to-date guidance possible.
EPA recommends precautions to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of the virus. These precautions include increasing ventilation with outdoor air and air filtration as part of a larger strategy that includes social distancing, wearing cloth face coverings or masks, surface cleaning and disinfecting, handwashing, and other precautions.
Each of our three classrooms is equipped with a HEPA-rated air purifier with a certified filtration rate of 99.97% of microns .03. Each floor of our school has it’s own closed HVAC system and is fitted with a MERV-rated 11 filter. When weather permits, windows are opened to circulate fresh air. In addition, children participate in two days of all-weather nature-play each week minimizing time indoors.
All of our teachers have been trained prior to reopening on all things related to coronavirus. Staff members are trained to have a working knowledge of the origins, progression, testing, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Staff have been educated on the CDC guidelines for social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting protocols and response protocols.
Intensify Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols
Our program ensures adherence to hygiene and cleaning and disinfection requirements as advised by the CDC and DOH, including “Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19,” and “Stop the Spread” poster.
Cleaning logs are maintained that include the date, time and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
- All staff and children perform hand hygiene immediately upon entering the facility.
- Proper hand washing signs are posted in all bathrooms and near all sinks.
- Hand washing is required during the following times and when hands are visibly soiled:
- Upon arrival to the facility
- Before and After eating
- Before and After caring for someone at home who is sick
- Before and After treating a cut or wound
- Before leaving the program at the end of the day
- Between program activities
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After touching garbage
- After returning to the facility from outside
- Hand sanitizer is readily available throughout common areas and is used when hand washing is not available or practical.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer contains at last 60% alcohol.
Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting Shared Spaces and Materials
- All staff wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect.
- Clean using soap and water to reduce germs, dirt and impurities; disinfect to kill germs.
- High use surfaces cleaned and disinfected frequently and full cleaning and disinfecting at end of each day
Door knobs, cabinet handles, light switches
Before and After Each Use
Before and After Each Use
After drop-off, after lunch, prior to pick-up
At end of day
- Toys are utilized on a rotating basis and cleaned and sanitized between usage.
- Toys that cannot be cleaned (ie. Soft toys, dress up clothing), are not be used.
- Children’s books, like other paper-based materials such as mail or envelopes, are not considered a high risk for transmission and do not need additional cleaning or disinfection procedures.
- While toys from home are not permitted at school at this time, a single lovie that can live at school is permissible. Lovies are sent home with nap items weekly for laundering.
- Cleaning schedules are posted and adhered to.
- All children must provide their own nap sheet and blanket.
- Nap materials are kept in an individual vinyl bag/container so as not to come into contact with another child’s belongings.
- Nap sheets and blankets must be brought home and laundered at the end of each week.
- Sharing of nap materials is strictly prohibited.
- Nap mats are cleaned and sanitized daily. Each child will have their own designated nap mat labeled with their name.
- All staff wear disposable gloves when changing a diaper or assisting a child with toileting. Children and staff wash hands after diapering/toileting and the area is cleaned and disinfected.
- Individual classrooms (composed of no more than 15 children) use the outdoor play space at separate times. The CDC states that “the targeted use of disinfectants can be done effectively, efficiently and safely on outdoor hard surfaces and objects frequently touched by multiple people.” The following guidelines are adhered to:
- Disinfect hard surfaces on the outdoor play space between uses by different groups of children or when bodily secretions get on surfaces.
- Children wash hands before and after using the outdoor play space.
- Hand sanitizer is available for use if a child sneezes, blows their nose, etc.
- Trash receptacles are available for disposal of soiled tissues, gloves used during sanitizing, etc.
- Areas or structures that might be hard to clean will be avoided.
Social Distancing at School/Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- All staff maintain a distance of at least six feet from other employees at all times, unless safety or the core activity requires a shorter distance.
- Employees wear face coverings at all times whenever interacting with the children.
- Smocks are provided for teachers to prevent child’s secretions from coming into contact with clothing
- Anytime that staff are less than six feet from one another, they wear face coverings.
- Facial coverings can include: disposable surgical masks, cloth masks or face shields.
- Groups/classes are limited to 15 children.
- Classes are not permitted to mix or use shared space at the same time.
- Teachers are assigned to regular/static groups and are not commingled with other classes/groups.
- A distance of at least 10 feet is kept between groups at all times.
- Use of floating teachers is limited.
- Substitutes will only be utilized on an as needed basis to cover teacher absences.
- Children who nap at school are placed 6 feet apart whenever possible and head-to-toe.
- All guardians/caregivers must wear a face covering during pick-up and drop-off.
- Guardians/caregivers must maintain social distancing of 6ft outside of the entrance to school and limit gathering before and after drop off.
- Guardians/caregivers will not be permitted into the facility unless for an extenuating circumstance.
- Children are required to have a set of “indoor shoes” to be used only at school while indoors. Teachers will assist children in changing shoes upon arrival and prior to dismissal, and before and after any outdoor excursions.
- Families are required to provide their child with utensils for eating. There will be no shared eating supplies.
Social Distancing & Staggered Arrival/Dismissal
To limit exposure and reduce the number of visitors, drop off and pick up will take place at the main entrance of the facility. A Director is available to conduct health screenings and welcome the child into school. A child’s teacher will then escort them to their classroom for hand washing. Parents will complete an attestation form indicating that they are abiding by health screening protocols at home.
A staggered drop-off and pick-up time for each class will be implemented.
Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is placed next to parent sign-in sheets. Parents will be encouraged to bring their own pen to use for completing the sign in sheets.
For dismissals between 3:00-6:00pm, parents will line – up and physically distance themselves. They will ring the bell and announce arrival. When waiting for their child, they will wait away from the entrance so that another family can announce their arrival and ring the bell. Children will be escorted from their classroom to the entrance for pick-up. Families will wait for teachers to release children one-by-one.
Daily Health Screenings
Children and staff will be required to comply with daily health screens upon arrival to the facility. Screenings will consist of:
- Temperature checks (admittance will be denied for a temperature of 100.4 or higher)
- The following screening questions: (guardians/caregivers at drop off will be required to answer these questions on behalf of the child)
- Have you experienced any COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days?
- Have you tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
- Have you been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
- Responses will be recorded on the sign-in sheet, reviewed and documented daily.
Sick Policies for Staff and Children
In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, new guidelines are in place to protect the health and safety of children, families and staff.
Children and staff should stay home if they feel unwell. All members of our program (children and staff) should not return to school/work until they are symptom free for 48 hours without the use of analgesics. This is an extension to the 24-hour removal from school. Parents and staff must disclose all symptoms of illness to the school, so that proper monitoring and tracking can ensue. Notification can be made by phone or email.
COVID Exposure Safety Protocol: Response Procedures for COVID-19 Symptoms or Exposure
Any confirmed or suspected exposure to COVID-19 occurring in a childcare center must immediately be reported to both DOHMH and the CDC.
Children or Staff Members who Develop Symptoms of COVID-19 while at the Facility
- If a child or staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 while at the facility (e.g. fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, shortness of breath), immediately separate the person from the well people until the ill person can leave the facility. If the child has symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, shortness of breath), the caregiver waiting with the child should remain as far away as safely possible from the child (preferably, 6 feet).
- If symptoms persist or worsen, they should call a health care provider for further guidance. Advise the employee or child’s parent or caregiver to inform the facility immediately if the person is diagnosed with COVID-19. (See attachment F)
Cleaning and Disinfecting after a Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Case
- Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting
- Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing products securely away from children. All rooms and equipment used by the infected person, and persons potentially exposed to that person, should be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with CDC guidance. Centers uncertain about the extent of potential exposure shall clean and sanitize all rooms.
Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts
- In accordance with state and local laws and regulations, school administrators should notify local health officials, staff, and families immediately of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
- All children/staff sharing a room with the diagnosed COVID-19 person, must enter a 14 day quarantine period and monitor for symptoms. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine-isolation.html
Decision of Length of Closure to Childcare Facility After Confirmed COVID
- Health officials will provide direction on whether a center should cease operations following the identification of a positive case in the facility. The duration may be dependent on staffing levels, outbreak levels in the community and severity of illness in the infected individual. Symptom free children and staff should not attend or work at another facility during the closure.
Returning to Child Care After COVID-19 Diagnosis or Exposure
- If a staff member or child contracts or is exposed to COVID-19, they cannot be admitted to the center again until the criteria for lifting transmission based precautions and home isolation have been met.
- Home isolation per CDC guidelines includes:
- 14-day incubation period of self-isolation
- Keep track of symptoms
- Inform your doctor
- See further guidelines here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html
- Child/staff member may not return to school without a note of clearance from their physician.