I am keenly aware that not everyone is comfortable with mask policies and we have had families leave our program because of it. However, our Covid-19 response is in line with our values as a program and most genuinely serves our community. Our preschool has been a magical space of allowing freedom within the safety of a carefully prepared environment and I believe we are continuing that magic.Kristin Neufeld Epp, director
The 2021-2022 school year is scheduled to begin on September 13, 2021 with online and onsite programming. Families can move between online and onsite without interruption or penalty. We are watching local numbers (cases, hospital, deaths) and rates of community spread and vaccination. Our plans will adapt as these numbers change. As a private non-profit preschool, we may require mandates more extreme than local, state and federal entities. While we are committed to enforcing as many mitigation practices as possible, they can not eliminate the risk of Covid-19 transmission during onsite programming.
ONLINE OPTION: Weekly instruction via YouTube with Ms Kristin is available for viewing at families’ convenience. Take home materials and all supplies are provided. Families can move between online and on-site programming as they like and as quarantine protocols require. If entire classes are online, there will also be Zoom meetings with staff during regular scheduled preschool hours in addition to recorded Circle Time, Journal Time, Project Time and Story Time.
ONSITE OPTION: We plan to move the majority of our time outdoors. A permanent shelter will be installed summer of 2021 to make outdoor learning more feasible. All classes are limited to no more than 12 children no younger than 3 years of age. One group of children meets per day Monday-Friday from 10-12 (later to increase the chance for mild temperatures). Arrival and dismissal is staggered from 9:45-10 and 12-12:15. Windows are opened on both sides of the classroom to ensure cross ventilation. Even with open windows, the HVAC heat and cooling system will be used to maintain a comfortable temperature and increase air circulation.
FAMILY SUPPORT: Masks, hand sanitizer, disposable water bottles, labeling materials, vaccination and testing information are available at the preschool entrance. Transportation to/from vaccination and testing sites are available. Unvaccinated children have an added layer of support if living with vaccinated people so we encourage household members over the age of 11 to vaccinate.
MASKS: Masks are required without exception for all people 2 years of age and above regardless of vaccination/immunity status except when eating or drinking in designated areas. During our 20-21 Toy Store and Summer 2021 Play Days, we had first hand experience of preschoolers masking without issue.
PHYSICAL DISTANCING: Furniture/equipment is arranged and activities are planned to encourage natural physical distancing. Teachers will actively lead in creating physical distance between children. Snacks are eaten on individual picnic blankets outside (a minimum of 3 feet between households) or if outside isn’t possible, at designated snack spots in the classroom (a minimum of 6 feet between households) and distributed by teaching staff. Time indoors will be quick and staggered to limit crowding.
HAND HYGIENE: In addition to our indoor bathroom, we have an outdoor hand washing station available at all times. Hand washing will be monitored in situations of bathroom use, snack time, secretions (nose blowing, etc) and surfaces sanitized between children’s use. Staff will wear gloves during bathroom assistance, food and water bottle handling, cleaning and symptom check/first aid.
COVID-19 SYMPTOMS: symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19 and are encouraged to mask up and get tested. Our community is fortunate to have free and quick testing available. New Creation Preschool can arrange transportation if needed. To make an appointment and get your results via text/email, visit gogettested.com or scan here:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
QUARANTINE: KDHE and Harvey County Health Department have the following guidance. In all scenarios, the local health department and local surveyor will be contacted if someone who is infected Covid-19 has been in the facility. While maintaining confidentiality, families will be notified of any possible Covid-19 exposure.
Scenario #1: If a fully vaccinated person (all staff/volunteers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19) is exposed to Covid-19 and has no symptoms, they do not need to quarantine and will mask in public for 14 days following exposure. They will get tested 3-5 days after their exposure and again at 7-10 days after exposure. If they test positive, they will voluntarily quarantine for 10 days (this is not required by state or county).
Scenario #2: If an unvaccinated person (all children in our program) is exposed to a positive person, they must quarantine for 10 days whether they have symptoms or not. During this time, supplies can be picked up or delivered from preschool and children can participate immediately in online programming. If symptoms develop, protocols in Scenario #4 must be followed.
Scenario #3: If there is a Covid-19 positive case in a class, the entire class of children must quarantine for 10 days. Teaching staff (who are vaccinated) will follow the protocols in Scenario #1. In the event that an entire class is quarantined, Ms Kristin, Ms Brenda and available volunteers will meet with them via Zoom during their regular class time in addition to the other online programming and take home supplies.
Scenario #4: People who are Covid-19 positive with symptoms (regardless of vaccination status) must isolate 10 days from the beginning of symptoms OR 72 hours after fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medicine, whichever is longer.
Archives of our Covid-19 response:
- 20-21 COVID-19 POLICY: When in the presence of anyone outside of your household, masks covering the nose and mouth must be worn both indoors and outdoors1 at all times for people age 2 years and older.2
1This includes the playground which is available for use at your discretion. There is no cleaning or disinfecting of equipment at this point. If you are on the playground with anyone outside of your household, masks must be worn on anyone 2 years and older.
2If you have a medical condition that does not allow you or your child to safely wear a mask, you can contact Kristin for permission to wear a face shield, possible contactless alternatives or to be contacted when our mask policies change.
The playground is available for use at your discretion. There is no cleaning or disinfecting of equipment at this point. If you are on the playground with anyone outside of your household, masks must be worn per our Mask Policy.
On-site activities sponsored by preschool include monthly Box Pick Up and weekly Toy Store with the following plan:
- Outdoors or in breezeway (with doors left open) if weather necessitates
- Mask Policy: masks must be worn at all times for people age 2 years and up
- Hand sanitizer for use before and after handling toys/boxes
- Boxes of the Month and Toy Store kits are prepackaged by New Creation Preschool staff/volunteers
- All items are quarantined and disinfected according to KDHE/CDC guidelines before distribution
- Families will be notified in the case of Covid19 exposure during Toy Store/Box Pick Up
- Households with anyone feeling sick or in quarantine/isolation are asked to not come on the property
- The Toy Store will close for 2 weeks if any New Creation Preschool staff/volunteer is positive for Covid-19 or if there are staffing issues due to quarantine.
- If the Toy Store closes due to Covid-19, tuition can be prorated and refunded.
- Box Pick Up dates may be modified if any New Creation Preschool staff/volunteer is positive for Covid-19.
June 2, 2020
EQUIPMENT NEEDS/IDEAS: donations to our preschool fund are welcome to help us meet these needs:
Some things to ponder and keep your eye out for:
Basement bathroom window: how possible is it to switch out the bathroom window so we have the option of opening it? This will be a primary space where social distancing will be difficult and if we can have the window open with a fan in it, that would help a lot.
Box fans for windows: The CDC and KDHE are recommending cross ventilation as much as possible, so I’m grateful for our basement windows. I have rigged up box fans in the windows in the past though they were quite rudimentary. Maybe a slightly smaller fan would work better?
20 log stumps between 12-18 inches high: These would be moveable and arranged as needed for outdoor circle time/snack time. More than ever, I’m grateful for the upcoming expanded playground. I’m not sure if we will permit children using the play structures so having natural logs and open space will be a gift.
Outdoor “camping” sink: like a water table but with the option for running water for hand washing.
Lots of plastic colanders: I’m thinking of having toys separated into colanders for children to use. When they are done, the colander is taken to the kitchen for dipping in a tub of bleach water, then drained and let to air dry.
Community Playthings clear panels: we have two already. These are beautifully made and connect to all the other equipment we have. with these we could create safe play spaces, dividers for circle time/group times, etc. If we get them from Community Playthings, they could easily be incorporated into our classroom post pandemic (if we have other temporary fixes made, i fear we will end up with stuff that’s not as usable).
Individually packaged snacks/supplies: for awhile we will serve prepackaged snacks and use all disposable products. If we can afford it, it would be nice to use more sustainable products (compostable and recyclable). I will invite families to contribute as usual.
Water source on playground: this seems impossible cost wise, but it would be ideal to have water access on the playground for hand washing/cleaning. Maybe someone out there wants to fund this project for us.
Hand sanitizer/hand sanitizer wipes/Clorox wipes: I have not been able to purchase any of this myself since prior to March 18. If any of you know of a source, I anticipate wanting this for preschool.
May 23, 2020
What is the “re-opening plan” for New Creation Preschool?
Based on “pre-COVID 19” information, I am generating 2020-2021 class lists like I typically would. The start date for 2020-2021 is scheduled for September 8. In addition, I am imagining different scenarios that we could phase to as needed. Each scenario includes me as teacher for all classes and us meeting at New Creation Preschool.
Each scenario also assumes potential practices for staff…things like mask/glove wearing by staff (we don’t know how this will look in a few months), a schedule of outside time (one option is doing preschool primarily outside), windows open with fans for cross ventilation (we are so fortunate for this option in our building), physical barriers between children for teacher guided times (if I ask a group of children to come to the journal table, I will have plexiglass barriers between each of us), physical barriers to create “safe play spaces” (plexiglass so children are alone in their space but can see friends right next to them), washing toys/equipment after being used by a child (i’m imagining toys divided into tubs that are single use before taken to kitchen for sanitizing), etc.
One thing that is consistent between all scenarios: I will not make guarantees with children’s behaviors.
I can’t guarantee a preschooler would keep a mask on. I can’t guarantee that a child wouldn’t walk into another “safe play space.” I can’t guarantee that a child wouldn’t toss a toy into another child’s space for that child to pick up. I can’t guarantee that a child wouldn’t come to preschool infected but asymptomatic. I can’t guarantee that a child wouldn’t cough because they drank their water too fast. I can’t guarantee that children wouldn’t hug. I can’t guarantee that a child wouldn’t hug their teachers. I can’t guarantee that a child wouldn’t spew respiratory droplets because of their enthusiastic talking…and more than ever I am committed to maintaining our dignity preserving, love based, curiosity motivated behavior management in the classroom.
If you completed an enrollment application for 2020-2021, you will receive an individualized “reopening plan” based on the information you gave. There will also be space for you to share concerns, questions or schedule preferences. There is no obligation for you to attend in 2020-2021 and no enrollment fee. There is time to “wait and see.”
While I am committed to coming up with the safest practices we as a staff can implement, this will not eliminate the risk of you sending your child to preschool. Following guidelines from KDHE, the CDC, USD 373, the NAEYC, we will do what we can.
The adults are the safe keepers. The children are children.
With cautious hope and humble gratitude,
on march 19, in light of the COVID-19 health crisis, we made the unprecedented decision to close our building for the remainder of the school year. supporting our families via email, text and social media started immediately. starting march 24, live circle times began on facebook. these are free and open to the public as well as all supplemental material provided.
developmentally appropriate skills and concepts are explored through the lens of the covid-19 pandemic, offering children an opportunity to notice their feelings.
our circle times have reached around the world and featured in local news. the primary goal of new creation preschool has always been to add life, love and laughter to the lives of young children. we are grateful to expand the school family.
a non-profit outreach of New Creation Fellowship Church since 1994
221 Muse Street Newton KS 67114
contact Kristin Neufeld Epp, director/teacher: