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Coronavirus Update

Hello Sunshine Families,

I hope everyone is well and making the best of the situation. The weather seems to be improving and we’ve been able to get outside on a few bike rides and hikes and it’s a nice change of scenery. I’m sure everyone has been following the news and while it seems there is relatively good news lately in terms of “the curve”, the Governor announced on Friday that schools will be closed through the rest of the school year. We have received guidance from New York State that this does not apply to regulated child-care centers. It is important to remember that there are key, relevant differences between schools and regulated child-care facilities. Most importantly, regulated child-care centers are required to adhere to a much higher standard for hygiene and disinfection than schools. Even before the COVID crisis, it was standard practice at Sunshine Starts to:

  1. have teachers clean and disinfect surfaces/toys in the classrooms throughout the day
  2. conduct daily health checks for all students
  3. send sick children and staff home
  4. thoroughly clean the entire building by a professional cleaning crew daily
  5. encourage kids to regularly wash their hands regularly — we have sinks in each and every classroom

Perhaps with the possible exception of #3, none of these practices are followed in schools. On top of that, schools tend to be much larger with many more people and much more opportunity for mass congregation. In addition, busing to and from school is another problematic close-quarters situation.

In addition to the standard practices above, we have made a number of changes to make Sunshine Starts an even safer and more hygienic environment once we re-open. Below is a partial list of changes.

  1. Enhanced health checks, including temperature checks, for all staff and children prior to entering.
  2. Any staff/child with any COVID symptoms or fever will be asked to stay home until cleared by a doctor to return.
  3. We are opening up additional rooms in order to keep group sizes as small as possible.
  4. Rooms will include the same group of children each day.
  5. We have designated a room within the building for the purpose of isolating any child that starts to exhibit COVID symptoms until they can be picked up.
  6. All staff will be required to wear face masks. We have worked with a Brooklyn-based manufacturer to produce 3-layer filtered masks for the staff. The face masks are made in white fabric and are a blank canvas for our teachers to decorate each mask.
  7. If so requested by the parents, their children will be encouraged to wear face masks. This applies only to children over 2 years old as the CDC recommends against face coverings for children under the age of 2.
  8. We will continue with curbside drop-off and pick-up in order to minimize the number of people coming into the building.
  9. In order to limit the number of staff that children come in contact with, we will:
    • Avoid combining classrooms at any point in the day (including pickup and dropoff)
    • Adjust break/lunch schedules to avoid congregation among the teachers
    • Continue with reduced operating hours of 7:30a – 5:30p which allows us to avoid having two shifts of teachers in the classroom. This mean that the same teachers stay with the kids from opening to closing.
  10. We have upgraded our cleaning service. Our new vendor is able to offer additional cleaning services/technology. Our new vendor will be thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the building daily.
  11. We have ordered and are awaiting the delivery of an advanced professional disinfecting system. The CloroxPro Total 360 Electrostatic System creates an atomized, electrostatically charged fine mist that allows disinfecting solution to reach surfaces outside the line of sight, covering what conventional sprays may miss, providing complete 360-degree coverage. Not only will this system help us lower the risk from the coronavirus, but it will also help fight the spread of more pedestrian infections such as the common cold, the flu, norovirus, etc.
  12. Teachers will increase the frequency of surface and manipulative (toys) disinfection, especially high-touch surfaces. It has always been our practice (well before this crisis) to disinfect surfaces in the classroom throughout the day. We have stepped up the frequency of disinfection given the current health crisis.
  13. Toys that cannot be effectively disinfected will be removed from the classrooms.
  14. Limit any visitors to the building (such as vendors/contractors/etc) during operating hours. All visitors will be required to wear face masks.

In addition, we are looking at a number of additional safety measures/technology. Just to give you some examples, you might have seen in the news that the coronavirus is quite susceptible to UV light. UV disinfection is well-accepted in the medical field, but of course, you can’t just bombard people with powerful UV light. We are exploring the possibility of installing disinfecting UV lights within the ductwork of our heating/cooling system. This would prevent any UV exposure for our children/staff but at the same time expose the air circulating within the building to the disinfecting effects of UV light. This would have health benefits for our children/staff well beyond the coronavirus. Similarly, it appears that higher humidity also helps inactivate the virus quicker. We are looking into adding whole-building humidification. Not only would this help with the coronavirus, but it will also make the building more comfortable for everyone, especially in the fall and winter months when the air tends to be very dry. These are just a couple of examples meant to give you a flavor of the kinds of things we are looking at and thinking through. Given the current supply chain disruptions, we cannot be certain when we can implement these improvements,but  we hope that you understand that we are exploring every avenue to make Sunshine Starts the absolute best when it comes to a safe environment for childcare. We will update you as we make progress with these, or any other upgrades we make to Sunshine Starts.

Finally, we will be sending out a short survey via text (SMS) message to help us assess the immediate child-care needs in our Sunshine Starts family. We ask that you take a few minutes to respond to the brief survey as soon as possible. It will enable us to be as responsive as possible to the needs of our families during these challenging times.

Wishing everyone good health!