You’ve no doubt been hearing a lot about the coronavirus outbreak. As with most things, the world seems to be divided. Half of us are in a panic, running around stocking up on hand sanitizer and disinfectants. The other half are laughing at the first half and posting memes on Facebook about how silly it all is.
What is the right way to handle it? In my opinion, probably something in between. Be a bit more careful. Keep the very old, the very young and the immune compromised out of crowds. Wash your hands a little longer and fist bump instead of shake hands.
For those of us in early childhood, we feel a particular responsibility because we have children in our care that count on us to minimize the spread of germs.
We need to be smart and take extra pre-cautions, but panic is not the answer. Being in early childcare, we are already trained to take extra care with hand washing and sanitizing. Hopefully we are already abiding by the rules. If not, it’s time to step it up! If so, maybe it’s time to review hand washing with the children. Directors and owners may want to review your methods of sanitizing toys with those responsible for doing so. When I was working in a center, we had teachers that were amazing at keeping their rooms and toys sanitized daily. We also had teachers that cut corners or didn’t do the job at all. Sometimes new people need training or people that have been around awhile just need a refresher. Ask them how much bleach per gallon of water. You may be amazed at how few know the correct answer.
Another issue in early childcare is reviewing your policy for when you send sick children home and when you allow them to return. Be extra aware that all staff members as well as family members are aware of your policies and that they are strictly enforced. We all know that parent that will dose their child with medicine to take a fever down right before drop off. Keep your eyes open and your thermometer handy!
If there is a child that is being sent home, get them away from the other children. If you don’t have an office or empty room to send them to, put them in a far corner and gather the other children as far away from them as possible. Give them toys and blankets to make sure they feel special and taken care of instead of isolated and weird.
When a child who is sick leaves, sanitize everything they touched including toys, cots, sheets, their cubby, etc.
Most of this probably seems pretty obvious but it is during these times of heightened awareness that we need reminders. It’s time to push reset and make sure we are doing everything possible to keep the children in our care as safe and healthy as possible!
The leftmost picture included below links to the “Your Therapy Source” site where you can find printable hand washing posters that you can use in your center or home daycare.
The other two pictures link to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 pages. You can find an abundance of helpful information at those sites.