This commentary was submitted by volunteer contributor Lisa Lee, Senior Program Officer, First 5 San Francisco.
As child care programs try to reopen, our city’s early educators need our gratitude and support.
Teachers have worked long hours to learn new health protocols and to provide great learning while keeping children safe. They do extra each day to clean and to sanitize the toys, to wash the linens and to wipe down the bathrooms—all in addition to creating rich learning experiences everyday for the children while you are away.
They welcome your child every day with big smiles and hide the fears that every teacher is holding about getting Covid-19, passing it to someone, or bringing it home from work to their own families. They juggle the joy of teaching with the new bravery that is required to care for children.
We are thankfully learning that Covid-19 is not transmitted easily from child to child in early care settings. It is largely transmitted from adult to adult and from asymptomatic children to adults. The teachers are not protected when children do not wear masks and if you do not wear facial coverings. As you return to work, use public transportation and resume your lives, you will increasingly also be exposed to Covid-19. For teachers, every family member connected to each child in their group becomes part of their microbial pool. There are things that you can and should do to help your family and the teachers get through this health crisis together.
- Do be part of the effort to keep everyone healthy. Keep your child at home if they have any symptoms or have been exposed to someone with Covid 19. Follow the Health Protocols in place by the program.
- Wear a facial covering every time you drop off your child. Encourage your child to do so if asked to do so by the teachers. Teach them how to put it on and off.
- Stay home when you can and follow social distancing protocols in your personal life. Remember that your actions in the evening and on the weekend are connected to the children, families and teachers in your child’s group.
- Plan ahead. Due to possible exposures, your child care may be closed temporarily for cleaning or a classroom may be closed at any given moment.
- Understand when your child must quarantine due to exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms. The teachers are following Department of Health guidelines trying to keep all children safe, not just yours.
- Answer the phone and read the communication and emails from the staff. They rely on your partnership to do the best for your child.
- Help out if your child care needs extra supplies or assistance. It may be disinfectant or gloves. It may be extra masks or face shields. It might be sanitizing the play equipment outside at the end of the day.
- Donate if you can to help the program survive the year. Advocate on behalf of child care’s survival and well being to local, state and national policymakers. If you don’t care today, they may not be there for you tomorrow.
We can get through this and teach our children an important lesson about working together and caring for one another. We are stronger together…just 6 feet apart.
Lisa Lee is a strategist, innovator, and educator in the field of early care and education. She brings over 30 years of experience, leading and collaborating with organizations and institutions serving young children, families, and communities. She has been instrumental in ensuring that San Francisco’s child care providers continue to operate safely and with the highest quality during the COVID 19 global pandemic.