Preschool Distance Learning & Tuition during Shelter-in-Place

Hi preschool parents! As the time for decisions for next year's enrollment nears, I'd like to make an informed decision about what different preschools are offering in terms of tuition discount and distance learning, in case we encounter an ongoing intermittent shelter-in-place scenario. I'm particularly interested in the 2yo to 5yo age group. Thank you for any information you can provide at this time!

  1. Is your preschool in-home or commercial?
  2. Is your preschool open for children of essential workers?
  3. Is your preschool offering tuition discount or reimbursement for children who are distance-learning? If so, how much or % reduction?
  4. How many online lessons per day is offered to your child? How many lessons per day does your child attend (realistically)?
  5. Has your school offered a plan for reopening?

Parent Replies

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1. I am in a commercial preschool that is on the larger size (maybe 80 kids?)

2. my preschool is not open for essential workers

3. They are asking if we can to pay the full amount, which we did.

4. they probably have some type of activity each day. Whether it be a class check in or a larger music class.  Realistically, we are going to 2 a week.  My daughter is in the 2s class and can't focus on zoom for that long.  She also gets very sad seeing classmates when she can't be in school.

5. We don't have a plan for reopening.  My understanding is that many of the preschools have no additional information than we have and as waiting to see what classroom requirements will be to figure out what they can realistically do.  I get the impression they hope to be able to be open in some form this summer--but no guarantees.

  • Our preschool is in a large combo daycare/preschool center in Berkeley. 
  • After evaluating they opted to not be open for essential workers because it would be too difficult to meet guidelines (not enough teachers without floaters to provide the breaks which are disallowed under the new rules). 
  • The center is affiliated with a larger nonprofit that is using reserves to pay salaries.  We paid in full for all of March (were given the option for a 1-2 week refund if we demonstrated financial need).  We have not had to pay for April, and were just told we do not have to pay for May. 
  • We get a handful of activities, videos, etc. from teachers each week - nothing live and no connections with other students/parents.  We typically read the suggested e-book and watch the teacher videos (2-4 min each) a couple times that week. 
  • The school has written a plan that is going to the nonprofit leadership for approval, but we have not been given a copy of the plan.

Margins are crazy-tight on daycare and preschool - less than 1%! - and friends who study ECE say 50% of centers will likely close and not re-open due to these shutdowns.  So food for thought may be that by paying some/any tuition they request is an investment in your child having a place to go when things do reopen.  Our family is lucky that we haven't had to pay, but we'd be dipping into savings to contribute to our preschool to ensure it remains open and teachers are cared-for if we did.  It's already excruciatingly difficult to secure a spot, and if our center closes, we know we'd be up a creek without a paddle!  We have done virtual info sessions with other preschools but many of them have told us a spot is very unlikely as they will probably have to reduce class sizes to meet any kind of new standards that emerge for fall!

  1. non-profit
  2. yes, starting next week
  3. yes, parents are asked to contribute "a fair share" to cover operational costs only
  4. between 2-4 per week (depends on classroom, we have several), we also get daily activities per email including recorded story time and activities that parents can print or show kids on tablets/ computer; we attend all, but my kids realistically only participate for 20-25 min - some days they refuse to be seen; overall attendance is around ~50%
  5. No. It's not possible because there is currently no timeline for when any childcare facility is allowed to open for non-essential workforce families. But the reopening plan for essential families scales. 

Hope this helps! Good luck! 

Colibri Preschool in Oakland

1. Commercial

2. Not currently. They polled the families with essential workers and based on their needs decided to remain closed completely.

3. They are requesting that everyone who is able continue to pay so that they can continue to pay their teachers. If families need a break, they are asking for us to pay 75%. If that is not possible, they are asking for families to talk to them and try and work something out. They are not enforcing the payment part of our contracts right now.

4. Each weekday each class meets with one of their teachers. My 4 year old's lasts for about 30-40 minutes while my 2 year old's is about 20. Around 3 days a week they have an afternoon enrichment class, one of which is being paid for by the parents association. Each of these (music, story time, yoga) is about 30 minutes. Once a week each of my children have a short conversation with one of their teachers. Usually about 15 minutes. Today the school "went to the farm" and had a special 30 minute virtual tour of a farm they were supposed to visit this month in real life.

5. Nothing in detail though they hope to open as soon as possible and that were will be new procedures in place to protect the teachers and students when that happens.

My son goes to a commercial day care in Berkeley. They are totally closed at the moment, but they have been sending out updates saying they are working with the City of Berkeley to figure out when they can open, and whether it'll be for all kids or just children of essential workers. They asked for full tuition for April, but for May they are saying that they understand if anyone can't pay full tuition and we should all pay as much as we can (the two head teachers have gone without a salary since March). They have two half-hour lessons a day - circle time, music class, yoga class, art class, cooking class, play bingo, etc. My child usually attends at least one a day, but often refuses to turn on his video and plays with his cars in front of the screen (but he is half paying attention). When it's bingo or art, he usually participates more fully. There are usually about 5-10 kids on each call, usually the older ones (the school has about 30 kids, ages 2 to 5). They don't yet have a defined plan for reopening, but that's because there is no clear guidance from the City/State yet about allowing preschools to open. However, they have said that they will open as soon as they are legally allowed to.

Our 4-yr-old will (hopefully) be returning to preschool at East Bay Waldorf this fall. They are PreK through 8, following the guidelines for schools, and seem to be in line with the school district in which we're embedded (West Contra Costa County); when the district announced its closure our school followed suit within a few hours. So even essential workers cannot use the school's services at this time.

There are no tuition discounts for distance learning. The school is being very proactive working with families who have had an income loss as a result of COVID-related shutdowns, but they are also being quite open with everyone that those who are still able to pay tuition, including early childhood parents (pre-K and K), are the primary reason the school will be able to remain intact and reopen in the fall.

There are no direct remote lessons being offered to Pre-K students. Instead, the teachers are making extensive use of the Google classroom to communicate with parents and provide content for parents to share with their children, as well as doing both one-on-one phone calls with children and semi-regular conferences with parents.

No detailed plan for reopening just yet. I think they are quite reasonably waiting to see what happens moving forward into the summer.

1. In-home daycare.

2. yes, currently open for essential workers. 

3. No, they asked for full tuition but not enforcing it and told those who cannot afford to pay that they won't enforce the contract. 

4. none

5. Yes, it is small in-home daycare and can easily comply with ratio and cleanliness requirements.  They already communicated that as soon as allowed the kids can all come back right away.