Coronavirus is the word on everybody’s lips in all corners of the world right now, along with ‘Physical Distancing’ and ‘Self Isolation’ the 2 phrases we have become all too familiar with in recent weeks. It is all well and good to say we should practice these recommendations, as well as suggestions to work from home and to keep your social circle small.
But what can this look like in a busy Early Learning Service? Your work involves young people who don’t know the meaning of physical distancing, they don’t understand that hugs may not be safe right now. They NEED physical touch, and to withhold this from them, would be detrimental to their emotional and social development.
Carole Adams from Bayside Park Early Education Centre in Queensland, Australia spoke with us about some innovative and clever ways to address the threat of COVID-19 being transmitted within their learning service, and also to protect and maintain the health of the children and educators who spend their days at Bayside Park.
The team of educators have come up with some creative solutions using technology, to support physical distancing as much as possible.
They have set up a virtual “meeting place” using the ‘Rooms’ feature on Storypark.
The “COVID-19 ROOM” despite sounding like an isolation chamber, is, in fact, an online space where educators can share information, updates, changes to procedure etc with the children’s families. They have found that it makes it a lot easier for parents to find information specifically relating to coronavirus, rather than doing a search. Although Carole shares “I dare say, I look forward to the day when I can delete the COVID-19 room!”
In another creative solution, the team at Bayside Park are limiting who can enter the premises. The only people who can enter the space, are enrolled children and the teaching team.
You may wonder how exactly this works, with parents needing to sign in, and share important information with their children’s educators?
A clever bunch, with creative problem-solving skills, the teaching team have set up their electronic sign-in system at their front gates. Parents drop off and collect their children from the gates each morning and afternoon. In order to communicate with each other, they are using walkie-talkies, sharing important information in a very unique way!
In the afternoons, parents are able to call or text the centre mobile number (to keep the main centre line free) to notify staff they are 5 minutes away from collecting their child. This allows educators enough time to wash each child’s hands before departure, gather their belongings and send them out to be collected by their family/caregiver.
All children’s bags are now being kept in the foyer and are sprayed with Oxivir Tb, each morning, to kill germs including some strains of coronavirus.
In addition to the above measures, they have postponed all planned incursions until further notice.
With another creative solution, Carole tells us that with summer cooling down, it is the perfect opportunity to put children outside for their sleep.
Washing hands upon arrival as well as departure means that the children are limiting the chance of coming or leaving with any ‘unwanted guests.’ This is in addition to the zillion other times in between.
A fun way to ensure children are washing their hands well during the day, the educators stamp each child’s hand with an ink stamp upon arrival in the morning. They are then challenged to wash their hands so much and so effectively throughout the day, that the stamp has disappeared by the time they go home. “They used to be so excited to show their parents they had received a stamp, but now they all get super excited to show their parents that their stamp has gone!”
They have also escalated their plan to commence “Bush Kinder” sessions in a week or two. The outdoor learning programme has been in the pipeline for a bit, but with a sense of urgency, it will start sooner than expected. This will allow social distancing to occur amongst young children by having wild and open spaces for them to explore in.
It seems that their hard efforts and dedication to supporting the health and safety of ALL members of their learning community have paid off. Carole shared with us a message sent this week by a parent from Bayside Park.
“The lengths you go to keep our babies safe is so appreciated. I couldn’t be more confident in a center than I am with BPEEC. I am the absolute envy of my colleagues who are dealing with what can only be described as a daily nightmare elsewhere. Truly grateful!! It is not only the protection you are providing for the kids but the piece of mind you give.”
Bayside Park Early Education Centre is proud to be a family-operated service. Bayside Park Early Education Centre is a purpose-built Childcare Centre with its own secure play area, and excellent resources. The Centre is ideally placed within easy access to Redlands Hospital and backs onto bushland – which is a pleasant habitat for natural wildlife such as Koalas, and Lizards.