Thoughts on sending child to preschool during covid
Under normal times, we would only be concerned about the big transition and typical adjustment issues our child would have going from daycare to preschool (he is 3). He is slated to enter preschool next month. However, amid worsening news of covid trends and the debates about school re-openings, I am increasingly worried about sending my son to preschool for the same reasons that parents are concerned for the safety of their kids going to school come fall (understanding that for us, preschool is still 'optional', though in some ways, it is not because we also work full-time). The preschool staff have been very receptive to all my questions. Changes that this preschool has made to adjust for covid include 1) reducing class size from 24 to 10 (so 3 classrooms of 10), 2) keeping classrooms separate (this means no big homeroom, outdoor space must be restricted to one classroom at a time with cleaning in-between transitions), 3) spacing furniture in the classroom such that tables consist of only 2 chairs, 4) setting up sanitation protocols, both for people and equipment. I am asking parents in similar situations about preschool, specifically because of the 'optional' part - because if we don't send our son to preschool, he would basically stay home and we would have to balance childcare/working from home. This comes with its only set of challenges that my husband and I only had to endure for one week because thankfully, our little home daycare was able to remain open for the most part and keep a very small pod of 3-4 children for a while. The daycare has been running at capacity (8 kids) for several weeks now, and it has worked out fine. On the one hand, I think that going from 8 kids to 10 (daycare to preschool) is not a huge difference, so maybe I don't need to worry as much, but on the other hand, this would be in a setting where there are potentially 36 people using the space (1 classroom + 2 staff, but times 3). I welcome anybody who has thoughts and what they envision for the different options they can realistically entertain. Thank you!
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Our preschool has followed the same precautions that you described. My son has been back at preschool since mid-May, and we are very happy with the protocols. It helps our mental sanity to be able to work calmly from home, and my son thrives on routine and social interaction. It is definitely a question of personal risk tolerance - looking at Berkeley's numbers, the risk is likely lower than in other parts of the Bay Area. Not everyone will feel comfortable with the same protocols.
I had similar concerns with returning my child to preschool so the first person I turned to for advice was my pediatrician. I actually spoke with 2 pediatricians at the practice and both were encouraging about sending my child to preschool especially with the precautions the preschool had put in place. They both said based on data, young children were not big spreaders and if they even did get Covid, case would be mild. We are a non-risk household. Our child has been back now for over 2 months and we couldn't be happier with our decision.
Also, there was a recent article about preschools and daycares in CA. There have been cases relating to a daycare (ie a parent had it from work, etc.) but not one link of a child to child spread and daycares and preschools have been open for months.
We spoke to our doctor about it and we've decided to go ahead an enroll our daughter. She starts in 2 weeks. There's ALOT still unkown but there's a trend of info leading us to believe that its harder children under 10 to get sick. Our doctor didn't verify this but brought up the bigger concern of them possibly transmitting it to us from a teacher/other kid and the risk that poses to our bubble of people. We'll have to take extra safety precaution once it begins but think we can manage. We just can't work and have her and our two infants at home at the same time... Our situation is a tad overwhelming.
My daughter returned to her preschool July 1 -- reduced class size, lots of outdoors time, parents drop off at door (which isn't ideal, but necessary). Temperature checks with no-touch thermometers at drop-off and I think one more time during the day. All in all it's been a positive experience. My daughter desperately needed the stimulation, exercise, and socialization opportunity. They devote a lot of attention (especially during circle time) to hand washing technique. Kids play together but are encouraged not to cluster together. Again, not ideal but necessary.
I wouldn't worry about the 3 classrooms. If they're following state regs, the groups are segregated in terms of facility use. That is, one bubble per classroom. We have 2 classrooms at our preschool and they might was well be 2 separate schools.
We need more data, but from what I gather, there have been few cases of infection spreading in childcare for young children where there are small bubbles + strong health & safety protocols.
We sent our 2 kids back to preschool/daycare with similar protocols to the ones you describe. The benefit of the kids being in school is huge - we really don’t take them anywhere else aside from the occasional hike. They’re getting socialization and seeing other kids, which has been so important for their wellness.
We’ve been back in school since May and not had any outbreaks at the school (even tho a family member of one student tested positive). But I’ve seen data that suggests the likelihood of spread in schools is close to 100% in a given week when infection rates get to about 5% in a community. The decision is definitely about your own personal risk tolerance.