What does your preschool look like inside during COVID?

My daughter just started at a preschool under COVID restrictions.  We appreciate that they are trying their best to keep our children safe and are trying to adhere to Alameda County Health requirements.  However, we were VERY surprised to find out that when they talked about pods, it was not referring to her small class of 8 students and 2 teachers as one pod.  Instead, when inside the classroom, students are separated into their own "pods" (blue tape around about a 5" X 5" area with a desk, chair, and small shelf of activities).  They are alone in their pods (unless with a sibling) and not allowed to leave that pod or interact with other students (unless calling across to another pod) for 40 - 50 minutes at a time.  Does anyone else's preschool look like this inside/are doing the same thing?  Is this the expectation now with COVID restrictions, or is this only specific to this particular preschool?  Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!  

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Our preschool has 4 classrooms.  Each pod/classroom has 8-12 kids (12 max) with 2 teachers.  Kids interact during the day but now each has own desk (each desk about 6 ft apart)  and own mat rather than a shared mat and shared table

Your situation sounds odd from others I know who've sent their kids to preschool.  I spoke with 2 pediatricians in our practice prior to sending our kid back to preschool.  Both felt comfortable with young kids interacting with each other (especially with pods) as Covid doesn't tend to spread with children under 10. 

Our preschool is allowing the kids to interact with each other in their stable, small groups. They definitely have contact, but there is a big emphasis on hygiene and discussions around why we keep our distance and wear masks.
My son has a class of 7 with a ft and pt teacher. They have 1 indoor area and 3 outdoor areas available to them on a rotating basis throughout the day (the outdoor areas rotate with other small groups at the school). I believe only when the teachers are sanitizing for the next group are they asked to remain in a small area, but always together.
Students are encouraged to mask and teachers are required.

That sounds sorta weird to me, but also really safe? My son goes to a preschool in Oakland and he's in a group of 8 kids and they talk about social distancing and keeping your space but they also play and interact with one another, both inside and out. I don't think there is any really good way to keep everyone separate at this age, although what your school is doing sounds pretty effective. Most of our school's community (the parents) get tested on a regular basis and all of the teachers get tested once a week. I feel really comfortable about the kids interacting closely. We are a low risk household, without pre-exisiting conditions, so we're taking a calculated risk. Your school seems to be taking it to the next level, which will only keep you guys safe. And maybe your daughter doesn't mind? 

This sounds a bit strange. At ours they seem to be spacing the children apart during story time, and they have separate activities inside at tables spaced apart, but they are not forcing the children to stay apart if they want to do an activity together. We have had pictures of the kids playing a game together while sitting closer to each other inside. I think there are county requirements that children stay apart as much as possible inside but it would probably vary as to what that looks like at each school. 

My three-year-old’s preschool, and the other several preschools that we looked at, consider a pod to be a small group (of up to 10 students and 2-3 teachers) that do not mingle or share space with other groups. Within that pod they can play normally. His preschool is mostly outdoors. Teachers wear masks but students do not. I hope this helps!

My kid's "pod" is his class of 10ish kids and 2 teachers. They interact freely within this pod, though I think they try to clean toys/materials between uses. 

Our preschool is not doing this at all. They are attempting to keep children in stable groups within the classroom of about 3 to 4 kids. So those kids do centers together and sit a same table at snack and meals and such. Our preschool is telling us that they are following the guidelines from Alameda County Health, the CDC and their licensing organization.

No, this is not what ours looks like. Our "pods" at preschool are like you describe with a stable group of students (10-12 kids) and 2 teachers. This pod does not mix with other pods at the school. They are very careful with things like hand washing, and masking (adults and most kids - those who will wear them), and keeping non-teacher adults out of the inside spaces. Hope this helps!

The preschool my daughter is starting at next week doesn't have anything like what you described - each classroom of 12 kids and 3 teachers is a pod and the kids interact with each other within that pod. They will be encouraging masks indoors and out (but not forcing it for the 2-3yo group) and teaching the kids social distancing, and one teacher will be focused on cleaning at all times. I don't know how it will work in practice yet but I don't believe the approach you're describing is something mandated or even recommended for very young children. If you're interested, there's a great source I've referred to for help understanding Covid as it relates to kids, created in part by Emily Oster (author of Expecting Better, Cribsheet): https://explaincovid.org/

Hi! Our preschool built a wall to divide classes (5-8 kids)- the tape thing doesn’t work with little kids and it’s not a requirement.

I would not put my three-year-old preschooler in this learning set up. That sounds awfully restrictive, and not conducive to learning, playing, or getting the warm social aspect we send our littles to preschool for. Our son‘s preschool will have parts of it kids with one teacher in one classroom. They usually have 24 kids with two teachers, but divided that into three groups. They’ll have mask breaks outside when able to socially distance, and they’ll eat outside. 

Hi! My 3.5 year old started at a Berkeley preschool last week and they have split the whole school (ages 2-5) into 7 classrooms, and are keeping each classroom as a unit or "pod". His class has 9 children, with one set of siblings, so 8 families total. The kids freely intermingle in the spacious classroom with each other and the 2 teachers. They do not come into close contact with any of the other 6 classes children or teachers. They are encouraged to wear masks but it's not strictly enforced. The teachers do wear masks. The school is fortunate to have a huge outdoor space which they have cordoned off into separate areas, (bike deck, play structure, garden, etc) which the classes rotate through, and they they clean/disinfect those areas between classes. Parents drop off at the door after answering questions re: health of child and family and exposures, and a temp check (done at home or at the door if you forget). No shoes inside the classroom. I feel really safe and happy with this set up. 

I just had to respond because that sounds crazy! I can only speak to the preschool my son is currently at but I've been intimately involved in how they're handling covid because I'm on the reopening committee. Nothing in the Alameda County Health Department or CDC guidelines looks anything like what your school is requiring. They do ask for small stable groups with the same teachers and to practice good hygiene and social distancing as much as possible — but there is nothing saying kids can't play together or should be physically isolated from their peers. I think to a preschooler that wouldn't be much fun, and part of the purpose of preschool is socialization and learning how to interact and problem solve with peers. I will say our preschool has made some major changes to best accommodate the new restrictions (being almost entirely in the outdoor space because risk of transmission does go up with being indoors; removing a lot of small high touch toys and things like play doh that can't be cleaned; encouraging masks when indoors; setting up art projects and other activity stations further apart; etc.) but even without making those specific changes it seems like there must be a better, more developmentally appropriate way to handle this. I would talk to your preschool and ask how they came to that decision as a starting point and see if their response resonates with you. Then I'd also consider how your daughter is doing in that environment. Good luck!