How to COVID-Proof Your Center: Preparing for the New Normal
“What do I need to prepare”? “What additional requirements do I need to follow?” “How will parents react to these changes?”
As a business owner or child care director, the thought of returning to school may be overwhelming, and these are just a few of the questions you may be asking yourself. Please know that you are not alone. None of us have experienced this before but although the unknown can be scary, we are in it together. Today I'm going to share some tips to help COVID-proof your center and make your transition to the new normal as smooth as possible.
The closest experience I can compare this to is returning from summer break. Although there are many unknowns and potential changes, one thing remains the same: good planning and preparation will reduce stress and benefit everyone involved.
Whether your center has been closed due to COVID-19 or you had limited enrollment as an emergency service, preparing for the return of a new normal is a must. As states and provinces are opening back up, it is time to think about the needs of your clients and students, and decide what this prep should really look like.
For a parent bringing their child back to school it isn't going to be easy. They may even have guilty thoughts such as, "is it too soon?" or "am I putting my child at risk"? Keeping this in mind and making sure parents know you are aware of their concerns and have held up your side of the bargain to protect their child will help put their minds at ease.
So today let’s talk about preparing your center. As you plan to reopen centers or classrooms, organizing and updating, deep cleaning, and reviewing health policies are all a MUST. Join me as we explore each of these areas below.
Though I can't guarantee everything will go smoothly, These tips and ideas will help set you up for a successful re-opening of your center:
Organizing and Updating Your Center
As you prepare to reopen your center it is super important that teachers have time to organize their classrooms. Personally, I would think of this as relaunching the school for the year again, so whatever time you would normally give to prepare for a new year would be my suggested allowance for this task.
As they organize their classrooms, encourage your staff to think of simple ways they can give classrooms and centers a small facelift with new displays, storage bins, rearranged furniture, or maybe even a splash of paint! There is nothing that will give parents peace of mind like seeing the center and classrooms organized and refreshed. By updating bulletin boards, changing out classroom themes, and adding something fun in the hallways both the children and parents will feel at peace knowing you have been hard at work preparing for their return.
Deep cleaning is also a given before children return to your center. Depending on your budget you can split the responsibilities among staff or simply hire a reputable cleaning company. Now is also the time to think about what the daily, weekly and monthly cleaning schedules will look like, including both regular cleaning and new sanitation protocols that follow requirements from your local health department. A well designed checklist could even be prominently displayed in offices, classrooms, and washrooms to further assuage parental fears and indicate that you are operating in line with the latest health policies.
Review Health Policies
That brings us to the next point, the health department. Depending on where your center is and whether or not you are licensed this may look different, but before you open your doors or additional classrooms it is essential to review if there have been any changes to the health policy.
As you review the policy, sharing changes with your staffing team is equally important. I suggest reviewing things like diaper changing policy, handwashing, food prep, staff sick policy and snack time procedures with your team would be a good start. Even if the policy hasn't changed you'll want to make sure to refresh everyone especially during a time of increased scrutiny.
We may never return to our old normal after something like COVID-19, but we will return to a new normal. By preparing and being proactive, you are setting you and your team up for success and growth. Not only will you feel better with a clean and organized center, but parents will feel more comfortable leaving their precious cargo in your care.
Centers that show competence and creativity in this difficult time will likely not only weather the storm but see great growth. Now more than ever, parents are looking for a center that is serious about cleanliness, quality care and service that they can count on! By taking the necessary steps to put your best foot forward in these unique times, you will stand out against the competition while reducing your own stress and that of your parents and children.
We wish you all the best as you navigate these waters, and remember, you are not alone! Let us know if you have any further questions about how to COVID-proof your center and we’ll be glad to help!