The Utah State Board of Education recently announced that it is creating the Utah Leads guidance for schools to be able to fully open in the fall of 2020. Each school is being asked to develop and post their own return-to-school plans by August 1st. While we are not part of the state Pre-K to 12 system, these plans will greatly influence what happens with Mountainland Head Start (MHS) classroom-based services in the fall as we will likely follow the lead and recommendations of the state. While there is still so much uncertainty about what school will look like, one thing remains certain, at MHS we’ll be doing everything within our power to help children and families to succeed. Although we still have many unanswered questions at this point, we want to keep you informed about our plans. These are subject to change to meet the needs of our families and community.
Following the lead of the Utah State Board of education, MHS plans to open our classrooms for in-person services in the fall. Should the health status change in the state, we will adjust accordingly. The question then becomes, how do we keep children and staff safe from the spread of COVID-19? We plan to strictly follow all CDC, licensing, and health department guidelines. We had the benefit of operating a small three-week summer program this year which has given us valuable insight into how to best keep staff and children safe.
Should all go according to plan and we are able to start classes in-person in the fall as anticipated, we will be implementing the following safety precautions to protect children and staff.
- All staff and children will be closely monitored for symptoms of COVID-19. Every staff member will have their temperature taken before the start of work. Children will have their temperature taken and undergo a health check during drop-off while parents answer questions regarding the health of the child and potential exposure before the child may enter the classroom. When entering the classroom, children will be directed to wash hands before touching any surfaces. Any child with symptoms of COVID-19 will temporarily be asked to not attend class until the child has sought medical care and/or is no longer contagious. Should a child begin to show symptoms during class they will be taken to a room separate from other children and supervised there while their parent is contacted to pick them up. If a child who has attended is diagnosed with COVID-19, parents will be notified, and we will follow health department recommendations at that point. This may involve the classroom being shut down for 24 -48 hours for intensive disinfecting. The same process will be followed for a staff member who is showing symptoms of the illness.
- While MHS has always taken strict measures to make sure our centers are sanitary, additional disinfecting measures will be taken to reduce the potential for spreading the virus.
- Increased measures of social distancing will be put in place and face masks will be encouraged for children and mandatory for staff. (We recognize it is hard for a three or four-year-old to wear a mask)
- Meals will be pre-plated by the teachers and tooth-brushing will temporarily be suspended.
- Lending library will be temporarily suspended.
- Parent and community volunteers will temporarily be suspended.
- All field trips/curriculum extenders will temporarily be suspended.
- Children will be trained in and practice effective hygiene practices such as proper hand washing, coughing into the elbow, and trying not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Where possible children will work and play in assigned small groups to limit the number of other children they come in direct contact with. This will also aid in contact tracing.
- In our rural center in Nephi where we provide limited bus service, we will follow a similar classroom protocol during bus stop pick-up and while in transit.
We recognize you still have many questions. Following the state’s lead, we will be developing a full return-to-school plan to inform everyone about what precautions we will be taking. We are asking parents to please not hesitate to enroll their child(ren) as we will be providing some form of services in the fall. Should the state decide that schools may not open direct services in the fall, then we will continue to provide services virtually until in-person services are allowed again.
Now is the best time to apply, especially if you and your family are experiencing financial hardship. You may be able to qualify today, even if you wouldn't have qualified a month ago.
Apply online today or call: