Preschool during Covid

Parent Q&A

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  • Greetings, 

    Our son's preschool is still requiring the children to wear masks indoors (except when napping). They have not indicated when, if ever, they will reconsider this policy. 

    Is anyone else in this situation? Any guidance for how to engage the school administrators?

    It seems like we're one of the only preschools still requiring masking, and I know the majority of the parent community is very eager for a policy change. 

    When this was an issue for us (some time ago when there was less data on masking and covid, but still enough for me to know where I stood on it) I informed the admin directly of what I thought the policy should be and offered to share data with them if that would help in updating policies to match current information. For example, there is data from Spain where 6 YOs were forced to mask and 5 YOs were not. There were no meaningful differences in covid rates. Coronavirus: Masks in schools are not associated with lower coronavirus transmission, says new study | Society | EL PAÍS English Edition ( I framed it as you may not be aware of this but, ... and I would be happy to share more information or discuss ... and I know it's hard to keep track of all this changing information and we all just want to figure out what's best for the kids ... 

    I think it is also useful to encourage other parents to reach out to admins about this. Many pre-school admins are not really well-equipped to process this kind of data or interested in weighing in on controversial (even needlessly controversial) subjects. Unless you have one that is -- and the current policy suggests they are not -- parent sentiment may be more important. All that said, if your preschool is still masking children at this point in time (except during naps when covid cannot spread -- this is one of my favorite science-y covid policies, along with masking on the walk to the table at a restaurant) it might be time to look elsewhere. It tells you something about the school's priorities and methodologies that they are still doing this.  

    Hi - just to chime in, our preschool still requires masking indoors and I know of others that do as well. I don’t have any comment on the question of when they will stop, but my impression overall is that it’s not uncommon to still require it. 

    I would drop this preschool in a heartbeat - they’re only protecting themselves and not the children at this point. 

    Seconding one of the comments above, our preschool still requires indoor masking as well with no sign of dropping this policy. 

    We're at an independent school that only recently dropped our indoor mask requirement. I will say that although most people were very ready for it to end, it was also absolutely linked to a spike in COVID cases this winter among both students and staff (and other respiratory illnesses kicked back into high gear in many classes, too). So...based on our experience, it appears the mask policy was, in fact, doing something. There's certainly a school of thought that says we had to rip the band-aid off sooner or later, and I'm hopeful that once everyone has had COVID at least once, things will settle down. But at least for our school, there was a notable difference in the number of cases after they stopped masking, and I can absolutely see why a preschool might want to keep the policy in place, even for no other reason than to keep staff healthy so school can keep running. This falls into "be careful what you wish for"--certainly advocate for a policy change if that's what most families want, but also be at peace with the possibility that it may come with more sick days and potential school closures if subs aren't available.

  • Hi all.  What do you do when your kid has recurrent colds with covid-like symptoms (eg runny nose, coughs, sneezing) but not covid?  We are usually stuck with our child for 2 days at home while we run antigen tests for 48h and is cleared to go back to school.  I have taken so many sick days off already since my child gets a cold every 6-8 weeks but will not be able to do this indefinitely and am at wits end to figure out what to do.  It is basically impossible for me to work when my kid is home, many times I end up working late at night (I know I’m very lucky to be able to do this but it is certainly not practical).

    Is there a short notice nanny service that can help?  Does this exist where they can send the same person so our kid forms a relationship?  How do others manage this if their school has a similar policy?

    Any advice or commiseration much appreciated!

    We were in a similar situation at our daycare. My child had to be out all the time - I’d estimate she missed 25% of scheduled days. We switched somewhere new that has more relaxed policies, including not closing every time a kid gets Covid. I’m sure this would horrify the Covid conscious parents that back the stringent policies, but for me it’s been a tremendous source of peace of mind and stress reduction. You didn’t indicate your child’s age. Obviously change is hard and other variables matter, but it sounds like you’re in a situation that’s not working for you. I will say - as my children have gotten older, their colds become much less frequent. 

    You asked how we handle it. To be honest, this is a significant factor in why I decided to seek out part time freelance work where I set my own schedule. It makes it harder to make ends meet, but I just could not handle any more days where I was trying to both work and parent. Obviously, not a solution for everyone, but that’s what we did.

  • I'm a liberal, pro-science, law-abiding person and I have no interest in allying myself with right-wing crazies. But I'm wondering what we as a community are thinking about masking toddlers, with little data to support the practice, significant harms, and no end in sight. 

    There are a number of reasons that masks are harmful to preschool-age children:

    --they inhibit social and emotional growth;

    --they inhibit language development;

    --they irritate the skin;

    --they are often unsanitary in toddler populations;

    --they promote mouth breathing which impairs proper facial development.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends against children under 5 wearing masks as a preventative measure. Accordingly, masks are not recommended for children under 5 in the UK and most countries in the EU (France, Italy, Spain, etc.).

    In the US, CDC recommends masks are worn *indoors* for ages 2 and older at childcare facilities. Meanwhile it seems to be the norm around the Bay Area that preschools are requiring masks both indoors and outdoors for ages 2 and over -- this is total masking for toddlers upwards of 40 hours a week for full-time care. Several Bay Area counties including Alameda have criteria for lifting indoor mask requirements for adults (three weeks in CDC moderate tier of caseloads; vaccination thresholds); Marin and SF are already lifting requirements. But childcare settings are an exception to to this lifting, so as far as I can tell there's no reprieve in sight for preschoolers.

    Is there some specific benchmark that we are waiting for in California, the US, or as a community before the masking requirement is reduced or lifted for toddlers? Because my patience, as a parent of a three-year old who wears a mask at preschool for 40 hours a week, is wearing thin. FDA vaccine approval for this population, unlike for 5-12 year olds, is very far off (January would be the earliest but that is highly speculative). Meanwhile, there's literally no data to support that masks are effective at reducing transmission in the age 2-4 population. The data shows that COVID is a very minimal risk for children -- a *unvaccinated child* has about as much risk of getting or spreading COVID as a vaccinated 40 year old, if not less (…).

    As a parent, I feel the strong need to advocate for preschool children's interests here as they are not able to advocate for themselves. Indeed, children do get used to wearing masks, but that is not a sufficient justification for a potentially harmful practice -- children can get used to almost anything, including several forms of abuse.

    Do others here share my concern?

    Yes, yes, yes! What are the benchmarks for this changing? The problem is that there are none. 

    I completely agree. Our preschool encourages but does not force masks for toddlers. I send a mask to school with my 2.5 year old but don’t expect her to wear it all day (and she doesn’t!). Would love to see this requirement lifted but it’s up to our politicians. 

    Thank you for stating this.  I am heartbroken by all the harms caused by masking toddlers (the only country in the world who actually does this), as well as the gaslighting that inevitably comes from certain people when you bring it up.  The fact of the matter is that I, as a healthy but almost 40 year old vaccinated adult, am at higher risk of getting covid and having adverse effects than my unvaxxed toddler child.  Additionally, the idea that cloth masks actually do anything in disease prevention (relative to the vaccine), particularly when worn the way toddlers wear them, is absolutely without logic or reason. I support everything you have said, and share your concerns.  However, I am pessimistic about positive change happening here, other than the tide of public opinion in california magically shifting, which I don't see happening unfortunately.

    I agree with your point of view and read of the data (and I'm also a parent of a three year old in pre-school). I am probably less worried about the negative effects than you are but I do think it is ineffective for kids who are together 8 hours a day wearing cotton masks (and in our case, taking them off at naptime), to be wearing them at all. It's providing marginal if any benefit based on all studies I have read about cotton masks and extended indoor exposure times. I will say that masking seems to have cut down a lot on colds, but obviously there are other things going on that could make it hard to untangle what exactly is reducing the colds. 

    The point in time at which I am going to feel a lot worse about this situation is if we get our kids vaccinated, achieve a similar level of population wide vaccination in Berkeley that we are seeing 12 and up, and are still requiring our kids to wear masks. I'm very concerned that this community is never going to give up masking as a common practice indoors.

    In the meantime, I encourage my child to take off her mask when we are outside and try to give her as much mask free time outside of school as possible. 

    I am with you 100%. I also want to know when my elementary school age child will be able to take her mask off on the playground. And if she is able to get vaccinated soon, I expect her not to have to wear a mask inside. The risk of covid to children is about the same as the flu:…

    I think we just need to keep saying this over and over until public perception starts to change. People are scared, I get it. In addition, in the Bay Area, mask wearing has become politicized and covid protocol is a question of virtue signaling instead of reality. For every covid precaution, there is a price, and we take risks every day because the rewards are worth it. I know that I don't like socializing in a mask, why would my child want to only interact with her friends with masks on? And if she were to be totally ok with it, I worry about what that says about her social/emotional development.

    Anyway, no solution, just want to make sure you know that many others feel the same way. Parents need to continue to speak out on this and make our voices heard.

    I'm not sure what sort of response you're looking for here -- it seems like you mostly wanted to express your feelings. 

    But if you are asking for opinions of other parents of young children, here's mine: I am happy that my preschool requires my two- and four-year old children (and all their peers) to wear masks. Knowing that none of the children at the school are vaccinated, and especially as Delta has demonstrated that kids are not safe from the risks of COVID, knowing that they are masked gives me peace of mind and allows me to send them to a daycare they love (and that allows my husband and I to keep our out-of-the-home jobs) comfortably and happily. I agree that wearing masks outside seems unnecessary. Nevertheless, our preschool requires it and I have no problem with my kids complying with that rule. I have to admit I'm bewildered by your claim of masks causing "significant harms" to kids. Where are you getting that from? I am aware of no research suggesting as much, and in fact have seen studies showing that masks have no impact on social-emotional learning or language development. My children have never complained about wearing masks (the two-year-old was excited to be a "big kid" and wear a mask like her brother once she turned two), and I have noticed no signs of harm to them. Also, my kids have gone close to two years without any illness more serious than a sniffle, which is a huge win in my book.

    As far as I am concerned, mask requirements should begin to be lifted when everyone of all ages has access to vaccines -- which seems like it's only a few months away. Considering we've been doing this since March of 2020, wearing masks for 3-4 more months just doesn't seem like a big deal to me. 

    Yes, I absolutely share your concern. As you mentioned, it’s not based on science nor do children seem to be affected. The adult population working at these facilities can get vaccinated. So who are we protecting? 

    Thank you for asking this question. We actually left BUSD last year when it became apparent that covid risk was the only risk they cared about (as our children had zoom school everyday while schools all over the world successful taught children safely in person, following the science ...). Based on my personal conversations with them, many parents share your concerns and would to see a more data driven approach involving an appropriate risk-benefit analysis. 

    I don't know if they deal with preschools specifically, but you may be able to find a subset of the Open Schools Berkeley | Facebook group that is working on this, or maybe they could put you in touch. The larger group will not touch the issue and this seems to be driven by a combination of (a) fear of being associated with "right wing crazies"; and (b) fear that somehow pushing back on mask mandates in the classroom (and apparently also outside during PE) could result in more school closures. I have also been told that at least for school aged children this is a state wide mandate and so there is little use in trying to get local actors to look at the data. But certainly this is a concern for many parents, including myself.

    If you want to message me your email, I can try to put you in touch with some people in Berkeley who may know more about how best to advocate for a science and child-centered approach to this issue. I don't think we will see changes anytime soon unless parents start speaking up and educating people about these things. 

    I’m not a parent of a preschooler, but of a 7 year old and I completely agree with you. The Bay Area as progressive as it is will likely not do away with masks until either the politicians decide its in their best interest or parents refuse to send their children to school unless masks and mandates stop and the districts lose money. 

    Without getting into details, I’m an RN and have been working on the Covid unit in an SF hospital since the pandemic started. I will tell you that what myself and colleagues have seen and dealt with does not line up with what is being reported by the media or the politicians. When we started seeing the “data” being literally created by the doctors choosing who to admit based on their vaccination status and age and not their actual necessity for acute care hospital services requiring hospitalization, we had to ask ourselves why? None of it made sense. 

    The bottom line is money. The hospitals get paid by the feds for every covid patient admitted, and billions of dollars spent on the vaccine is lining someone’s pockets for every person that gets vaccinated. Why else mandate it? Especially in California with the lowest covid rates in the nation? With the majority of the Bay Area already 70- 80% sometimes 90% vaccinated?

    All this will continue until people realize what’s really going on. I’m neither a democrat or republican. I’m not an anti-vaxxer or conspiracy theorist. I’m going off what I’ve witnessed as a nurse on the Covid unit throughout this entire pandemic.

    Covid is real. Its transmissible through respiratory droplets like the flu, rsv, or any other cold virus. If you have underlying disease you can likely get very sick needing hospital care and can possibly die. If you’re healthy, it’ll likely be a moderate flu if nothing at all. Most people don’t get preventative care so they may think they’re healthy, but in fact have underlying disease- high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Those are the ones who are needing hospitalization or eventually die, but the “data” will say they were otherwise healthy.

    Its crazy how we are where we are today in regards to covid and how divided our world has become off of information that is not entirely accurate. I don’t blame anyone for not knowing since most people don’t know someone who is on the literal front line of this pandemic and are going off the news media, cdc, and “data”. 

    I would really like to see masking lifted at preschool when the kids and teachers are outdoors. We are lucky enough climate-wise that kids can spend tons of time outdoors year round as well, which could further reduce masking. I understand logistics makes this hard- it's probably a lot of work for teachers to help tons of kids take on and off masks all day, so the default is probably to keep them on at all times. I have also noticed that some schools require masking all day, including outside, but then have kids eat lunch and snacks inside all together maskless- so the inconsistency of policies is frustrating. I do however find myself wanting to overly protect them though as the vaccine nears, so I understand people who want to keep them. It's like, we have done all this hard work for so long and they have been masked for so long and we are so close..why screw it up now? Anyway, thank you for posting. 

    I'm hoping it can be the end of the year or Jan/Feb next year once we can get the school/toddler-age population vaccinated.

    It's obvious to me that we should not be asking toddlers to wear face masks.  The science doesn't support it, and an honest evaluation of the risks and rewards suggests that it's not worth it.

    But it's very difficult for people to calculate risks.  Naturally, all of us parents are risk-averse with our children.  We want to do everything we can to keep them safe.  But sometimes we do too much, and our safety concerns end up harming them.  I'm thinking of the over-protected kids who can't go off to college by themselves because they're so used to having their parents do everything for them.  But it's an issue that comes up with kids of all ages, and it's not just in the social realm.  Even in the realm of physical health, you have to make judgements about what's safe.  Do you tell your kid not to climb on the play structure, because you're scared they're going to fall off?  Or do you push them to take a risk and see how much they can do?  Finding that balance is hard to do.

    I think there's a universal tendency in human psychology to over-emphasize the clear and present danger, and not pay enough attention to the long-term dangers or the hidden dangers.  Take, for example, the debate over climate change.  It's hard for people to appreciate the danger of a warming climate, when the worst effects are still years off in the future.  It's a lot easier to see that you need your car right now.  Will we as a society be willing to make the changes to our economy that need to be made, in order to forestall the worst effects of climate change?  Probably not, in my opinion.  But for anyone who has studied this issue, it's obvious that we're making the wrong decisions, and our children will suffer immensely as a result.

    I would encourage everyone to bring this same lens to looking at COVID.  People are freaking out about the immediate danger of the virus, without thinking enough about the long-term damage being done to our children by closing schools, limiting social interactions, and disrupting the normal socialization process whereby young children learn to read emotions and express themselves.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't have any safety concerns. I'm saying if you look at our history, and our typical pattern of making decisions based on short-term thinking, you can use that to fine-tune your risk assessment.

    I share your concern.  Are you on Facebook?  There is a group called CA Parent Power asking the same

    questions at the (public) school level, but I wonder if they might be able to connect you to any organizers working

    to do the same with early education.

    -When did we stop following the science?

    I'm going to take some issue with your assumptions here. I think you are coming from a good place of wanting what's best for your child and other preschoolers but as a pediatrician I have not seen any evidence of masks inhibiting social and emotional growth or language development; few skin irritations (and honestly probably less than what I see with people rubbing their face). and in terms of them being unsanitary in toddlers, they are more sanitary than the hand to mouth, hand to butt to mouth stuff that happens without the mask and kids get sick less when mask wearing. whether or not kids mouth breathe more with them on I have not seen studies so can't comment. It does seem like schools where everyone wears masks get a lot less illness in general and COVID in specific.  I do think the masking requirement will get lifted but I doubt it before January. but it doesn't seem to cause harm that I've seen and it seems like it may cause risk reduction so I don't share your concern. Here's hoping that all eligible people get immunized ASAP, the rates drop to negligible and they get to take their masks off! :)

    After 20 months of masking, I think 3 more is a small price to pay.  I also know there are plenty of preschools around who are very lax about masking.  If you feel that strongly about it, I'm sure you could find one for your child.  Bear in mind that the families who have kids at schools with strict covid protocols mostly want it that way.  And while we may never return to "normal," I personally think it is fair to ask all people, including adults, to continue to mask indoors and in crowds until vaccines are available to all (6+ mos).  

    Yes, I could not agree with you more and sincerely applaud you for raising these points and questions.
    I do not understand why parents in the Bay Area (filled with highly intelligent, pro-science people) do not speak up more about this!

    No, there is no benchmark. I applaud you for taking such a nuanced and evidence-driven view, and wholeheartedly encourage you to advocate. That said, you're fighting an uphill battle around here. Rejection of COVID mitigation measures has become the red-state hill-to-die-on. Acceptance of mitigation measures, including ones that may not provide benefit is the blue-state converse. Have you ever felt obliged to put your mask back on as you walk out of a restaurant after sitting maskless for 45 minutes breathing your aerosols into the air around you? I'm a pediatrician in one of the hardest-hit communities in the Bay Area. I'll gladly suck up whatever pain-in-the-butt measures will protect me, my family, my patients, and my community. I get really fed up with performative gestures or non-evidence driven overkill that has negative secondary effects. You make a good case that masking preschoolers falls into the latter category, but I think it'll be a while until you get many people on board with you.

    Hi there. I also have a preschooler that is masked all day (even outdoors) and share your frustration. All of the teachers/staff at the school are vaccinated so I wish that they will ease up on the masking a bit. However I do not know if all of the parents are vaccinated. I guess if the administration felt comfortable to ask if all of the adults in the children’s lives are vaccinated, we can stop imposing masks on the kids all day. 
    Another side effect of a litigious culture?This makes me sad. 

    I 100% share your concerns and have been deeply troubled that I (under most circumstances) can't voice my perspective or share data with others'. The disappearance of nuance, ability to discuss things outside of one's viewpoint, and desire to force others into certain behaviors or habits (like masking a 3 year old) has been incredibly disheartening to experience and witness. I unfortunately don't really think there's a way out of this whole thing as people a) won't read medical journals or consider information that goes against the Bay Area narrative ("it's super dangerous for your kids, mask at all times") and I think most parents are so tired that they don't want to do further investigation or acknowledge other realities exist. I cringe when I remember 18 months ago, people taking to social media to encourage "the Teddy Bear campaign" -- "put a teddy bear up in your window so kids can be cheered up when they walk outside!" Then we proceeded to close playgrounds for 8 months, accused children of being superspreaders, and then masked them (indefinitely) with dubious data. It's heartbreaking. All this to say: if you find a way to advocate for preschool children's interests, please let me know; I'd love to join you. I'm also pro-outside playdates, where kids can be kids and interact with each other in normal circumstances. So if that feels like an option, please let me know too. 

    Very interesting points that you bring up.

    Unfortunately, the mask has been politicalized. People in the Bay Area are the most stringent about masking wearing especially in the more liberal parts of Northern California. My brother and his family live in Orange County where it is more conservative and right leaning. At their daughters' preschool, masking is optional. 

    I think it's fine that outdoor masking should be done based upon the cases in the community and vaccination rates. During the Delta surge, masking even outdoors was appropriate. Right now, UK is surging and based on the Delta variant patterns, we should expect it to reach the US in 2 months. So, in theory, we should be okay with no masking outdoors right now since the cases are low.  

    We know that preschoolers tend to touch their face with their fingers, can't socially distance, etc so wearing a mask might be best to mitigate even passing the cold and flu. My school age daughter was home last week for a cold but we couldn't bring her back until she had a negative covid even though she was feeling better the next day, she was at home for an additional 2 days waiting for the covid result.  

    Although not ideal, kids are adaptable and can learn to understand emotions with masking:

    Yesterday, my kid's preschool announced a teacher tested positive for covid. I was not worried, because they take masking seriously, and because, as you say, for healthy toddlers, the covid risk is minimal. Today, none of the kids in her classroom tested positive. I was very pleased that the preschool's masking and testing protocol worked. You are right that for most preschool kids, masks have important downsides, as well as a few upsides (e.g., fewer colds, less thumb sucking). But for families with high-risk individuals, masking in preschools has huge benefits, and I for one am more than happy to have my preschooler keep on wearing masks for a while. 

    Thank you for this thoughtful, well-written post on a topic that strikes a chord with me and others I know. I'm a parent of a 3 year old and a 1 year old and am also a liberal, pro-science member of this community.  I wonder if there is some organizing that can be done around this? I'd also be very interested in removing the city of Berkeley's guidelines that ask everyone to continue to wear masks at playgrounds. The signs asking people to do so are still up at many playgrounds around our home and  people follow rules here (which is great!) but I'm at a loss as to why we're still masking at playgrounds as well. The city's last posting about it cited statewide guidelines, but those state guidelines are no longer in effect so it would make sense to loosen up a bit here too. 

    I understand your point, but I do not agree that masks are harmful for children and haven't seen any compelling data to support that. Indeed there are many countries where masks have been used for years during cold and flu season and I haven't heard any negative effects. I think one thing to keep in mind is that while healthy children are unlikely to get very ill - not all children fall into this category. Parents of children with conditions that make them more vulnerable to covid also need care for their kids and excluding them from preschool is unfair to the children. Perhaps you can think of mask wearing for healthy kids as similar to not including nuts in the lunches of kids w/o allergies to protect kids with allergies in the class? Similarly, some parents may have conditions which put them at risk and in some cases these are the same families most in need of childcare. Vaccines for littles are coming soon and hopefully with that rates will fall. In the meantime masks help protect vulnerable families. 

    This write-up that rounds up what research exists on the downsides of masking just came in my inbox this morning and thought it might be of interest. Emily Oster is one of my most trusted sources of evidence-based parenting advice. Similar to what has been shared by many of the commenters on here, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of research to show huge negative impacts of masking, but there are clearly some, and we should be thinking about what the off-ramps are to ending the practice.…

  • Are there any preschools with openings that require the kids and teachers to wear masks and also do surveillance testing of the kids and staff? I’ve found only one school that meets this criteria and they’re full.

    Moderator Note: see also previous discussions about this: Masking During Covid ... Preschool during Covid

    Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) has mandatory masking + weekly testing for all students/staff/teachers including for pre-k classes. Not sure if they have openings but definitely work asking. EBI wrote its own pandemic response plan that includes these issues and addresses many other layers of prevention (ventilation, etc).

    Hello. Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, a French-American school with a preschool-8th grade program, has very strong covid protocols and requires masking for all students and regular testing for students and staff.  I do not know if they have current openings but we've been very impressed by their approach to covid safety. We've also loved having our kids in an immersion program.  

    Hearts leap north requires testing of the teachers and the surveillance testing is optional for kids, but I think all or most have opted in. The parents and teachers are 100% vaccinated and they require masks. It's the most wonderful preschool imaginable! 

    I believe most of the East Bay independent schools are doing weekly testing, so I would check in with those that offer preschool programs. EBI, EB, and the Renaissance School come to mind but there are probably others. All schools and preschools in the state are required to have kids and teachers masked, so hopefully that has not been hard to find (and I'd skip any school that is not following that mandate, because who knows how many other licensing requirements they are also ignoring!)

    Every preschool I know of requires masking for teachers and students, I believe it's required by the county. Hearts Leap does surveillance testing for kids (and I'm guessing teachers too?) on site. We are at Via Nova and we have home-based PCR testing, everyone swabs at home and then the samples get sent into a lab - required weekly for teachers and recommended for kids and parents. But I think you're going to have a hard time finding any spots at any preschool right now; most fill up for the fall by early spring, so to find a spot right now you'll have to cast a wide net and probably compromise on something. One thing you could consider is starting a testing program, we just started ours at Via Nova and people's insurance or the CARES act covers all the costs, so the preschool just has to coordinate distribution of testing materials and sending in the samples each week. (Not that that's nothing, but it isn't like they're paying for all of the tests!)

    Ducks Nest in Berkeley has strict mask requirements for students and teachers (and parents, when inside the gate), and vaccine requirement for teachers, but does not do their own surveillance testing of kids or staff. They do have strict requirements for surveillance of symptoms and everyone attests to their child's health at the beginning of each day, and they require a negative PCR test before a child can come back to school (even after just a clear runny nose). FYI, the type of rapid antigen testing that some schools are doing is not very helpful in terms of detecting asymptomatic infection - it detects less than half of what a PCR test would detect in an asymptomatic person. Rapid antigen tests are really best used to confirm Covid in the presence of symptoms. The testing piece isn't a deal-breaker for me. 

  • No Masking at Preschool

    Aug 10, 2021

    Hi Parents,

    Our preschool currently does not require kids to wear masks.  In the past, when the question was asked, the rationale was that it's too hard to keep masks on kids.  I have many concerns about this in light of the Delta surge and looking for feedback from other parents on 1) does your daycare/preschool require masks for kids 2 and up as per CDC recommendation?  2) any advice for approaching this topic with the Director?

    thank you!

    Our preschool (Broadway Children's School/Oakland) does require masks for all children. I believe the director had noted that it was a recommendation or requirement from the state board. They have back-up single-use masks (with fun prints!) for kids to try if theirs from home aren't comfortable, and if that doesn't work, the kiddo is sent home to try again the next day. They also had plans set up that if kids were having difficulty with their masks that they would be moved away from the other kids until the issue could get resolved. Only one of the 3-4yo's had problems (and eventually worked it out), the others had no problems. It helped that all the teachers and helpers wore their masks 100% of the time to model the behavior and that the kids had been practicing wearing masks at home. It also helped that they had easy-to-understand rules for when masks could be taken off: only during snack time when the kiddo was sitting in their socially-distanced snack spot, which itself was visually marked with a colorful hula hoop.

    My tips: help them locate fun back-up masks, suggest ideas for making it easier for kids to understand (model the behavior, clear rules), and ask other parents to also express their concerns to the director.

    1) Yes, our preschool requires masks. We enrolled in Feb 2021, when vaccines weren't out yet. I had pointed out to the director our child wasn't accustomed to masks, and she said that wouldn't be a problem because since everyone wears masks on campus, our child would learn just to do it as well. This turned out to be true. 2) No practical advice comes to mind. You would be essentially lobbying to change preschool policy, which I think is totally doable, but I have no experience in that kind of effort... perhaps if you talk to other parents and get their buy-in to ask the preschool to change policy? It depends on the preschool. If a co-op, I can imagine this being possible. Our preschool is fairly 'top-down', so because they already had the policy in place, we felt comfortable going with then. Good luck... 

    Our preschool does not require them but "encourages" them for the 2s and 3s class. The 4s class is "strongly encouraged" to wear masks. When this started (at least in the 3s class) I often didn't see many of the kids wearing them. But the longer they've had that expectation in place the more and more of the kids have been wearing them. With the move to the 4s class, my child seems to be wearing his much more consistantly. I think this is practice, age and the teachers gentle reminding and encouraging.


    I recommend you most certainly talk directly to the director of your school.  MOST preschools and elementary schools are enforcing masks.  It is a false statement to say that children cannot get covid, or pass it along to others.  While we are enjoying excellent protection from the vaccines, the state of things is clear--we can still get sick.   I personally know of a PE teacher from a local Waldorf based school, who indeed did get sick w/ covid last year.  Excellent contact tracing revealed it was from the student body.  (this was CONFIRMED, not conjecture).  The resistance to masks is dangerous.  Small tykes can handle it if they can blow their own noses, or feed themselves!  We see kids all over the place masked, they are fine.

    Masks were required this past school year for our son's preschool class (age 3) except during nap time and when eating (they were distanced for both). The school's 2 year old class had the same rule and these rules continued over the summer even when rates were low. I think it is reasonable to recognize that 2 and 3 year olds are not going to be perfect at this but that is no reason to not try. Yes, there will be times where one of two of them have their masks below their noses, or off completely. But teachers should be expected to remind them to pull them back up or help them do so. After about 3 weeks in school, my son was completely fine wearing a well fitting mask throughout the entire school day. Talk to the school to see if they are considering an alternate approach and practice extended mask wearing at home for a few weeks. Also, find a well fitting mask - we found halo masks to be the best fit for him but happy masks were a close second.  

    Hopefully this is no longer an issue because the CA dept of public health is now mandating masks for everyone over 2. If the school hasn't started requiring this they're in violation and it's very serious  - call the office that issues their license they have a hotline:

    Hello! My 3yo attends Little Tree Montesssori and they absolutely enforce mask wearing for all kids. To be fair, I have been training my daughter to wear a mask since April 2020 when she was 2. I totally understand how difficult it can be to enforce it, but it is most certainly not impossible. I would approach it with them honestly and ask what their policy is on keeping the kids safe from covid-19 and what protocols they have in place for sanitation and what happens if a family gets sick. Understanding their whole approach to the pandemic might help guide your decision on whether or not your kid is safe there.

    Yes my child's preschool has a strict mask policy (for the whole last year) and it has been no problem. As a result my child is great with a mask at parks/playground etc. I'm now sending my kid in a N95 equivalent mask due to Delta. In fact my youngest child's daycare will have a mask policy for 18 months and up. For the youngest ones, it is about helping them with it and easing into it. But yes, especially over 2 years old masks should be required and teachers can help with that. 

    Our preschool starts at age 2 and everyone wears a mask. I was pretty skeptical last summer when my kid (then 4.5) went back to his preschool, I thought there was no way the kids were going to wear masks. But they all saw each other in masks, and they did fine. Kids are so adaptable, especially at preschool away from their parents! Here's a resource with some good talking points for advocating for mask requirements:…

    That would be a dealbreaker for me (though I appreciate that finding a spot at an alternate preschool is easier said than done, so you may not have the option of switching). My kids' old preschool, and all of those our friends' kids currently attend in Oakland and Berkeley, still require masks for all kids and teachers. Parents report that kids seem to have no trouble with this (and this is what I've observed hanging out with friends with preschool-aged children--many are much better maskers than adults!) There are undoubtedly individual kids who struggle with masks, but the preschool should be dealing with those cases one-on-one. Most significantly, this is not currently the preschool's decision to make, assuming you are in the Bay Area--there is currently an indoor mask mandate for all schools for children age two and older in both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties (and most of the region). If they are not enforcing that, this would be my entry point as a parent. Good luck!

    My kid’s preschool requires all kids to wear masks, except when they eat, drink and nap.  All teachers and staff are fully vaccinated and wear masks as well.  Since preschoolers are still not eligible to be vaccinated and can still transmit the virus and get very ill, if I were you, I would directly raise my concerns to your school director and see if they will change their policy.  If they don’t, I would probably pull my kid out of the school.  Best of luck!

    Our preschool requires masks on all kids. My kids (4yo and 25 months old) don't have an issue with keeping their masks on. Anytime I do pickup, dropoff, or see pictures of the kids at the preschool, all the other kids have their masks on too. Seems like a nonissue to me.

  • My son is going to be going to pre-school for the first time this year.

    The admin of the school let me know that one of their teachers (not my son's teacher) is not vaccinated, when I asked. 

    It's a really lovely, well recommended school. They do require mask and overall seem to have an excellent covid-19 prevention policy. 

    How would you feel as a parent? 

    What is my responsibility to other parents who might not have this information and naively assume, like I did, that all the teachers are vaccinated? 

    I'm really torn up about this and thinking about switching schools even though I really really don't want to and not even sure I can at this late date!

    I wouldn't send my child there.

    wow. that is really tough. it's easy to say I wouldn't want my kid there (which I wouldn't) but it can be difficult to move your child and find a new school. it might be easier to see if you can get the teacher (and if there are any others) to get their vaccines. I'd probably ask the school to require it or say you want to pull your kid.

    I wouldn’t send my child there either :( sorry you’re dealing with this situation. 

    I'm going to respond the same way I responded to the other poster with a similar concern. I would first ask if the director is willing to ask the teacher what is making them hesitant to get the vaccine and provide resources from reputable sites like the CDC. Then maybe appeal to their conscience. If one of the kids got COVID and died or had serious illness, I imagine they'd feel awful. They may be part of a community that may have had historical and understandable distrust of medical providers too so maybe coming from mother to caretaker, the appeal will be stronger. Or you can appeal to the financial side of it. If they get ill or the school shuts down for an outbreak, treatment, time off, etc may have a huge impact for them. It makes me wonder if they get their flu shot too. Unfortunately, this would be a deal breaker for me though...

    Yikes, did they say if the teacher would be getting vaccinated? If not, then it doesn’t sound like they have a good prevention policy like you say. An excellent prevention policy would be ensuring that all staff are vaccinated. I would nope the heck outta there.

    I would find a new preschool. And I would tell the school the reason when you withdraw. It is not ok for people to be unvaccinated by choice (i.e. without a valid medical reason they cannot be vaccinated) and working with children who cannot be vaccinated yet.

    I have a three-year-old who has been in preschool for a year (so, under COVID the entire time). All the staff and the students three and older have been masked the entire year. (The two-year-olds are unmasked until they turn three.) There have been five or six colds that have swept the classroom in the last year, and all the students caught them, masked or not. Granted, those were typical non-COVID coronaviruses, so may be spread more easily from surfaces than COVID, but I am unconvinced that even the strictest adherence to mask policies can keep toddlers from spreading viruses to each other.

    I would definitely inform all the other parents (I would want to be informed, as a parent!), and perhaps you could band together and convince the preschool administrator that s/he should require that all teachers be vaccinated unless they have a true religious or medical exemption (a very small percentage of the population). If that doesn't happen, I would absolutely, and unfortunately, leave the school. 

    Personally, I would not send my child there. Any teacher who does not believe in science, or the scientific method, or a school that has hired such a person, would not be acceptable to me. The same scientific principles used in the creation of cell phones, cars, computers, etc., which we use every day of our lives were used to develop the vaccines. The virtual eradication of Polio is due to a vaccine. Millions and millions of people have taken this vaccine; it is tested more thoroughly than any before in history. Unless this teacher is Amish, and doesn't use any technology whatsoever, for hypocritical reasons alone he or she is not really equipped to be a teacher.

    Would this teacher be interacting with your child? If this is a larger school and there is only 1 teacher unvaccinated out of the entire staff I probably wouldn't be too alarmed. I am guessing the employer cannot tell you why they are not vaccinated, due to HIPPA laws, but is it possible they have a legitimate reason not to get it?  If their Covid prevention policies have been working and they are following through with them it should be safe to send your child. I would contact a family that has been there during the school year last year to find out how they handled everything when there was no vaccinations available and base my decisions on further information.  

    This would make me uncomfortable as a parent but since the teacher is not your child's teacher I would probably stay as long as the school is strict about doing pods. In my girls daycare, none of the classes mix, there is no overlap of teachers from one class to another. Once class at a time gets to play outside and the play yards are separate. The other thing to consider, are siblings. I.e. does that teacher have interaction with a sibling from a kid in your kids class?

    That being said, in my opinion a childcare provider that refuses vaccines (unless they medically can't) is essentially saying they don't care about the health and safety of the children in their care. I would just stress with the director how important it is that the teacher is never around your child. 

    Hard pass. Not worth the risk.

    Based on your description, I would not consider pulling my child from a lovely school over this. I also would not feel the need to inform other parents.

    Also, the moderators may have informed you directly or you may have seen it in the latest newsletter, but they appear to have rejected many responses related to your question because they were viewed as offering medical advice which violates BPN policy. I mention it because if this were my question I would want to know that many responses had been filtered out by the moderators. So what you see may not be a very representative sample of the responses that were received.

  • Covid testing at preschools?

    Feb 13, 2021

    We’re looking into sending our 3 year old to preschool, and are wondering about what Covid protocols look like around the east bay these days. Would any parents be willing to share what school you’re sending your child to, whether testing is happening for teachers, students, and/or families at your school and how often, and how you are being notified if there are positive results in the school community? Mainly interested in preschool but would also like to hear what elementary and beyond look like too. Thanks!

    My daughter goes to a small home daycare (8 families which is 10 kids, plus 3 teachers). All families (including teachers) are asked to have the adults in the household tested every month. We've collectively written pretty strict COVID guidelines for when kids need to stay home from school (anyone in the family travels, anyone in the family has any potential COVID symptom, etc.). So far we have had 2 positive results (for asymptomatic adults) which resulted in school-wide closures and all families quarantining for 2 weeks. I've been really happy with the COVID safety measures in place at our school (everyone over 2 masks at all times, doors always open for ventilation, eating outside well spaced, etc.). Based on what I've seen at friends' kids' schools, I'd say we are on the strict/cautious side, but I'm grateful for that. 

    My son is 3.5 and goes to the East Bay German International School. Teachers get tested twice a week, free weekly (non invasive) student testing is available. Stable groups, teachers and kids were masks, and have regular hand washing practices. Temperature checks at check in. We are happy with the safety protocols and love the school in general. Preschool is bilingual, no prior German knowledge needed. 

    At our preschool (Colibri in Oakland) there is not regular testing but there are times when people must be tested. Let's see if I can get the current rules right as they've changed over time with me guidance from health and education officials. If someone (teacher, student, etc) is exposed to someone with Covid they must quarantine for two weeks and get tested twice- immediately and before they come back. If families travel, like over the holidays which was strongly discouraged, they also had to quarantine for two weeks and have a negative test. New families follow a similar prodical.

    Hi there, I can't speak to preschools since all four that my toddler has attended since COVID began last year have not done regular testing. What has changed has been more separation between pods of children, wearing masks more diligently, handwashing, and teachers are now starting to get vaccinated. We luckily haven't had any cases within any of the preschools, we ended up at different places more because of financial issues related to COVID that didn't allow the schools to remain open (private and home-based preschools). I currently work within a charter schooll in OUSD and we have pods of students back who are most vulnerable and at need, and based on the current cases within the school's zip code, we have asymptomatic testing every week (every other week once numbers go down) for students, teachers, and staff, and I myself am vaccinated because of my role as a mental healthcare provider. My partner because of his role as a scientist in healthcare, gets tested every two weeks, and that depends on the company as well, so I don't believe most parents of the children in our child's school get the same routine testing like our family does. I feel like this may vary between school districts and schools, as well as the jobs of caregivers too--we are currently in the enrollment process for our child for kinder in the fall in BUSD, and it sounds like if schools resume, the hope is to have the infrastructure to do regular asymptomatic testing, but we shall see!

    My 2 year old goes to Kidz Planet in Pleasant Hill. She loves it there and they take COVID very seriously. Anyone over 2 years old have to wear masks (that's a mandate from CoCo County). All the teachers get tested every 2 weeks. So far, this school has not had any positive cases while we have been there, not sure if they had any previously, but they are very good at communicating. My kiddos old daycare exposed children negligently twice by failing to act promptly when a positive case was reported among their teachers. I would ask schools what their COVID protocols are. If they don't have a policy to shut the whole place down after a positive test for the CDC recommended time frame I would run!

    I have two children, one at Cornerstone Preschool in Berkeley and another at BUSD. BUSD is doing nothing and has not given any indication that children will be back on campus in the spring. My guess is that they will not resume in person learning until teachers are vaccinated. 

    In my opinion Cornerstone has done a great job managing Covid protocols. They do not provide on-site testing but require families to quarantine and/or test any time any person in the household travels outside the county. All children two and older are required to wear masks and face shields. This sounds daunting but my two-year-old acclimated within the first day. It helps if a child lives in a family that masks regularly. Families are required to fill out daily health cards certifying that everyone in the household is free of symptoms and has not traveled. They also take temperatures at the door, though that feels less useful to me given how many kids are asymptomatic. Family members are not allowed inside the school and I believe they keep teachers and kids in pods to limit exposure. 

    We have been onsite since June 1st. In that time there has been one positive case at the school and they opted to keep everyone home until they had been in contact with the Health Department. They have since received guidance around how to manage future positive cases, which would require exposed classes to quarantine rather than a full school closure. 

    Hi there. You can see the guidance for child care/preschool programs here:…  There is more information, including FAQ for parents here: (scroll down to child care or all the way to the bottom for FAQ about returning to school or child care.)

    We have a 4 year old in Preschool in Berkeley and he's in a small pod of kids that doesn't change (10 kids, 2 teachers) with dedicated space/time outside. They follow all the guidelines from the Dept of Public Health including sanitizing, open windows, no outside adults coming in, etc. We take his temp every morning, and attest to no symptoms in him or anyone else in the family, etc. upon check-in. We signed an agreement to notify the school of any symptoms, exposures, or positive tests, but there is no ongoing or mandatory testing. We were notified once that a child in a different classroom (no exposure or overlap to my son's class) either had a positive test or had a sibling with one- I forget - but they quarantined that classroom and not my son's. We've been very happy and feel really safe. 

    Our daughter goes to 1st grade at the EBGIS (East Bay German International School) in Emeryville which offers a preschool program as well. They've been open and on campus since August, have implemented full COVID protocols, the whole gamut from app-based kid check-in, to socially-distanced classroom layouts, to small stable cohorts, to (mandatory) twice weekly teacher testing, to (voluntary & free) weekly student testing. Our daughter has LOVED the experience and we're grateful she can go to school. Since you asked about student testing: This is new, they just started this in February in partnership with the California Department of Public Health. The test provider is Color and you get the result in 24-48 hours by text message. In terms of positive cases: There has only been one positive case of a staff member, a few months ago, who was infected elsewhere which was picked up in the routine testing they do. The staff member quarantined as per CDC and county protocols. The cohort was sent home until everyone got tested and was able to return to campus after receiving negative test results. The rest of the school community was informed without revealing the identity of the individual. Importantly: The infection _did not_ spread at the school, which was an encouraging affirmation that the protocols they have in place are effective. We can't recommend this school more highly.

  • Preschool class size

    Jan 26, 2021

     Berkeley-area parents: tell me about preschools with small cohorts of 6-8 and very strict community agreements to minimize exposure WITH TEETH (ie, they kick families out if they violate the agreements at all). Is it standard for a preschool to have 14-kid cohorts and to allow kids to participate in one other extracurricular activity and to screen families only for unmasked interactions greater than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period? This is what our old preschool does and it seems to me not the strictest, which is what we want.

    Honestly, that sounds pretty typical, and not unreasonable on the preschool's part--that's consistent with the recommended County guidance for school settings, and more than many preschools do. You might have the best luck with a home-based preschool that has a smaller group size, although even then I don't know that you'll find one that has much ability to monitor for the other extracurricular activities or family interactions. Much of that is necessarily trust-based. A nannyshare might be an even better option--if you can gather several like-minded families, you could set up a four-kid group and look for a nanny (or even a preschool teacher looking for a lower risk environment).

  • Hello! 
    We have a 4 yr old boy who had been in full time Montessori preschool pre covid however earlier this year we had a baby so in an abundance of caution we decided not to send him back in June when the school opened up because the children weren’t required to wear masks even though the staff is doing so and proper cleaning is also in effect. The school states they aren’t legally able to mandate masks for the kids due to state licensing rules. However when talking to our sons pediatrician she said there were kids at the practice who attended schools with mandatory masks in the Oakland/ Berkeley area so I’m reaching out to anyone who’s kid attends a preschool with mask requirements or knows of a school. Does this even exist? We live in the Montclair area if that matters. I feel my son needs at the very least a part time program from a structure and social aspect although he is enjoying his time at home with my husband as primary caretaker of both kids. 
    I want to make sure he’s fully ready for kindergarten next year. Also if your child attends one of these schools how do they and you like it etc?

    Thanks in advance for any and all your advise as it relates to this topic  

    All the Best,


    Mi Mundo in Berkeley requires masks, they have openings. 

    My 3.5 year old son attends Mi Mundo and the children and adults all wear masks. We are new to the school this year (we attend the El Cerrito location) and are very happy with the program. I would highly recommend the school based off our experiences thus far. Feel free to reach out to me offline if you have any questions.

    Our wonderful Spanish immersion preschool, Mi Mundo, has openings and requires masks! My son attended when they reopened over the summer and I felt like their protocols were good - masks for all (kids could take them off if they were spaced out and outside), temp checks, lots of hand washing, etc. We were there for two years and loved it - my son made amazing art projects and learned Spanish and still talks about how much he misses it.

    Hi Lisa, our son is at Step One Preschool in the Berkeley Hills where all the kids are wearing masks. They also have a fairly stringent set of safety measures in place to mitigate covid transmission. My son loves school and can't wait to go on Mondays!

    Hi Lisa! Mine go to KSS Immersion Schools and I know they have a location in Oakland - Montclair! I don't know how close that is to you but they are really great!

  • Hello parents,

    I'm doing some research on preschools mostly by asking friends and neighbors about their experiences, since we can't visit schools. One neighborhood preschool has a cohort of 18 kids with two teachers. I understand this is legal in pre-covid times, but from everything I can find in Contra Costa County Health Department limits the groups to 14 kids. Is there something I'm missing? Are there waivers to have bigger pods? Note, this is for the 3-6 age group, not babies.

    How big are the cohorts at your preschools? I'm not trying to get them in trouble, just trying to understand and find a preschool spot for my kid.

    Thank you.

    Our preschool caps each class at 12 kids total per class. Some days there are less than 12 kids in a given class (some kids are on a 4/day week schedule), but the total number of kids enrolled in the class, and thus the max number of kids on any given day, is 12. Each class has at least two and sometimes three teachers who remain stable with that class and don't rotate into other classes. I agree that 18 kids per 2 teachers seems high! 

    Similar to previous post, our preschool is following all CDC guidelines which my understanding is 12 or <.  In addition there are 2-3 teachers per classroom and stay with that specific group of kids.

    Our preschool pod is 9 kids from 8 families (there is one set of siblings) and 2 teachers. 

    Ours is capped at 10 or 11, though I think that's related to the size of room they have in part.

    Our preschool caps cohorts at 12 as well. Two teachers and one aide per cohort, no mixing between cohorts. Like the other poster commented, 18 seems too large of a cohort.

  • 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!  

    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):

    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!

  • Hi all,

    our preschool is looking to add a substantial surcharge to regular tuition (20-30%) and has stated that this is what preschools do these days. Has your preschool been adding a surcharge or planning to do so? If so, how much? 

    Thank you!

    Nope. We recently decided to switch from our larger preschool to a smaller one, so there's less chance of spread of germs. And neither of them had upped their prices at all in this time. In fact, the larger preschool had a "pay what you can" policy during the shelter-in-place shutdown, just to help pay the teacher's salaries. Adding a surcharge in this situation seems a bit out of touch to me. I haven't heard of other places adding charges. We're all struggling to get by!

    My son is at Little Beans preschool and they have not implemented any surcharge or change in tuition. I don't know what they're doing for tuition for new students, but their policy has always been that tuition rates for existing students are frozen from when the child starts at the school until they age out.

    Our preschool has not added a surcharge but they were lucky in that the space they have been using can be configured to split the kids in to separated groups up in mostly outdoor areas. I'm sure some schools are limited by their available space and the challenge of keeping adults spaced apart. To achieve the teacher spacing we have had a reduction in our daily hours by 1 hour. I also believe most of the parents were paying full tuition (by choice) during the first few Covid months. I can easily imagine scenarios where a school might need to increase tuition by 20% to cover extra supplies, spacing, and a reduction in children as some parents opt to keep them home. I do think you'd be well within reason to ask for an explanation of the increase. If you don't like the explanation, you'll probably find that there are openings elsewhere right now.

    I haven't heard of anything yet but will keep a look out for it...  I wouldn't be surprised.  In addition to cleaning supplies, etc. enrollment is way down at my preschool.  In addition, the max capacity is significantly lower due to the pods/CDC guidelines.  I think the owner was able to get a PPP Loan that will probably help until August.  My assumption is the owner was hoping to have enrollment increase in August/Sept so I wouldn't be surprised to see an additional charge come Sept/Oct...

    No, ours is not. I have not heard of anyone else doing this. (And I'd be upset if they did.) We signed our contract for this coming school year back before all this happened. It will be interesting to see for 2021-2022 if tuition has to be increased substantially to make up for lower numbers and more costs.

    Our preschool has bumped up tuition and is also charging what they call a one time"COVID fee" (equal to one month's new tuition) to get back into school. Our school did not increase the tuition 20%-30%, more like 5%-10%. They justified this by explaining that they aren't allowed to run at full capacity and therefore need to charge more. We decided not to return since our child was going to graduate in August and paying $6000+ for only two months of preschool seemed insane.

    My preschool is not charging more, and I would probably protest if they did. We are getting less services (reduced hours, no more hot lunch included, no more special guests like music and drama) so I figured they are spending what they would have spent on food and the special guests on cleaning supplies and masks instead. We go to a large (50 families) school, but there are small pods of kids. I'm happy with the decisions they have made for the school.

    Wow! My girl is only in daycare, but her daycare has a pre-school and they are not doing that. I think that's unacceptable!

    Hi there,

    Our preschool is a private Mandarin Immersion Montessori, and as far as I am aware, they have not added a COVID surcharge to the tuition. We have been doing online classes while the preschool has kept in-person care for essential workers only. They opened up more spaces for existing non-essential workers' kids in June, and we'll return at the beginning of August, with smaller classes and CDC protocols in place. There have been no positive cases of COVID there to date. I hope this helps.

    We just received a letter this week that as of September 1, our preschool is increasing tuition rates by 25%. Our school director said that the increase was temporary, but did not provide a timeline for reducing the tuition. 

    Hope this is helpful!

    No surcharges for us, but we're at a nonprofit preschool in Berkeley.  Hours did reduce (previously went 7.30-5.30, now it's 8.30-5.30), and tuition went up $100.  I think this is because they cannot combine groups or use floater teachers in the same way, so they do have to pay some overtime to classroom teachers to meet ratio, so the extra cost felt fair.  They did discontinue less than 5 days/week schedule and now there are only options for 8.30 or 9am dropoff and 3pm and 5.30pm pickup.  Tuition went up $100 for each option.  Snacks are also not provided anymore but that seems to be the case everywhere.  I'd say 80% of kids came back in my son's class.  (It's 8 kids, will be 10 in August; prior class was 12.)

    No this is not a thing for most preschools near Orinda- not yet.

    Our daughter starts preschool in 2 weeks for the first time and they have not mentioned any additional costs, so no (for now)... It's La Plazita in Oakland.

    No, our preschool has not added a surcharge to tuition, but has a 2% tuition increase, which is consistent with prior years (ranges 1-4%). 

    Wow, brutal! No, our preschool has not said anything about a Covid surcharge. I know times are tough, but that's a lot. 

    Thank you for asking this. While I don't have an answer yet to what my preschool is doing, I have been waiting to hear what strategies preschools will use to cover increased costs around staffing and cleaning. Increased tuition, fees, eliminating financial aid...I imagine it's all being discussed.

    Our center is increasing tuition by 4% and adding a one time, $500 Covid fee to cover the changes needed and extra costs. We have not closed and have been able to adjust and adapt as the rules have changed. 

    Hi there,

    I've heard similar things from some of my friends about COVID fees. It seems like it could be common. I'm currently hunting for a preschool. Would you mind sharing the name of your preschool so I can get some more information?


    Seems reasonable to cover unexpected costs for supplies to protect staff and students from spreading COVID.

    We increased tuition 4%, which is similar most years - and added a $500 one time Covid fee to cover changes & supplies. We decreased hours open from 10 1/2 to 9 1/2, but parents by for specific hours already. 

    We just started a preschool in Alameda, and the pricing is the same as pre-COVID. The school is located in a larger building, and is only licensed for 30 kids. I know they were considering increasing the size, but now they don't, and are able to accomodate the social distancing requirements as-is.  

    Our tuition cost rose, but not significantly. However, the contract has been updated so that tuition is expected all year (no 30 days notice to withdraw anymore), regardless of if school can remain open- they will revert to “distance learning” if preschools must close, which of course, doesn’t really work for toddlers...

  • 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!

    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.

  • Are there other parents out there who are worried about how their child's new preschool will be handling the preschool transition, given social distancing guidelines? Our child's preschool, which we enrolled him in many months ago, is being fastidious about keeping class size small, having teachers wear masks, sanitizing, etc. My anxiety is *not due to concern about infection*. 

    I'm anxious about how my son will react to being dropped off at a school where all the adults are wearing masks, where they may not allow me or his father to enter the room, let alone stay for a few hours, and where the caregivers may not be physically comforting distressed children, and where children will be encouraged to keep a distance from one another. This all sounds really dystopic to me and I'm worried about how my son will be able to adjust to this kind of situation. 

    I'm having the same anxities. The transition is hard no matter what, but is definitely heightened now. It might be worth getting some pictures of the preschool teachers with masks on and off and having him learn their names, and also to have your kid see you wear a mask regularly so it seems normal. Oof.

    Hi! My daughter is 2.5 and returned to preschool a couple months ago (when they opened).  I had similar concerns - not about contracting the virus but the new "norm".  I'll be honest, I haven't noticed a difference with her at all.  The preschool teachers are so caring and she loves the outside playtime and interaction with other children.  It's amazing how resilient children are. However, note that kids usually have a hard time with the preschool transition in general.  It took my daughter about a week so that is normal and shouldn't be confused with the whole mask thing.   

    Hi! I am actually in the exact situation that you are in. I plan on moving our child to the waitlist and reevaluate closer to January. My child has only been cared for at home, so I had the very very exact concerns you do. Aside from those concerns, something else I kept in mind was how the school responded to initial closures and how they handled tuition. My particular school had interactive zoom meetings and YouTube videos of teacher doing lessons, and asked parents to continue paying tuition with different tiers depending on your situation (although the tuition being asked was still significant). All of this might sound great...if you had an older child but for 2s-3s with short attention spans, it does not seem worth the tuition they are asking. With the current raise in Covid cases and the predicted surge during flu season, I feel like we’re looking at another school closures.

    Hi there! Is this his first time in daycare/full time care outside of the home? I can't speak to your school or how your son will react but we switched our son's school and he started a new one last week. He's doing great and just as happy as can be to be around kids again. The school had him visit before, just us, him, and the teachers, so he was introduced to the space. Yes, the drop off is brief: we wash our hands, go inside, they take his temp while we sign him in, and then we say good bye. He's done just fine with it, whereas at his old schools, where we could linger, it was a diaster 50% of the time. The teachers are all wearing masks, and yes, they are teaching/encouraging social distancing, but they're two and three year olds so you know, they're still playing together, sharing things, and having fun. The teachers are still loving and caring. They're not touching just to touch, but they will certainly comfort a child if they need to. I was worried after 19 weeks at home how it would go to be back at school, in a new environment, with new people, and new teachers. Kids are so adaptable! Honestly it was harder for me than it was for him! We talked a lot about it in the weeks leading up to him starting. "You're starting a new school in a couple weeks! What are you most excited about?" "Won't it be so great to play with kids again?" "What do you think you'll do at your new school?" All of these were great ways to get him excited and looking forward to going. Does the school have a google photo album that they're able to share with you so that you can show him pictures of what he'll be doing? Has there been any conversations with the school about setting up a time to visit so he's been in the space? It might be a rough week, but you'll make it through and everyone will do great! Good luck! 

    My son is scheduled to start mid-August and I could have written this exact email. I too am very concerned about just dropping my son off to a basically empty room with socially distanced playing. The preschool he's going to has agreed to arrange a one-on-one meetings with me, my son, and the teacher (I'm not sure exactly how that will work, maybe I'll stand across the room or something) and also some times where we can visit the outside playground outside of school hours. Maybe that's something that your preschool would be willing to do? I wish I had better suggestions for you.

    Yes, I am definitely with you here. Our son is 2.5 and had been in a nanny share pre-Covid, and with mom/dad and grandparents during Covid. We were planning to transition him to a preschool this fall. The school is taking all the right safety precautions and I am confident that they are doing the best they can to limit risk BUT I am very concerned about having our son's first "school" experience be with masks and no touching and encouragement for distanced play, etc. I am seriously considering waiting until next year to start when he is 3.5 (with my fingers crossed that things will be closer to normal by that point). We sought out a preschool that had an especially nurturing/homey vibe since our son had been at home up until now and I'm starting to feel like the benefits of sending him (more social time and some structured learning activities) are not really outweighing the risk of exposure and the weirdness/dystopian part that you bring up. I change my mind almost daily on what to do, but I think I am leaning toward keeping him home until next fall.

    My son started in June just after he turned two and the transition has been absolutely fine. He isn't bothered by the masks. The school sent everyone pictures of the staff before all the kids came back showing them with and without masks and looking friendly, as well as some other pictures for the kids to see showing them that the tables inside would be spaced apart etc. The school let my son and I come for an hour while the kids were outside the week before he started. I sat at the edge of the playground away from the other kids, and my son got to meet the other children. The staff will be minimising unnecessary physical contact between themselves and the kids but I think they can still hold a child's hand, change a diaper, and give comfort if a child needs it (maybe not hugs, but some sort of physical comfort, I'm sure). My son cried a bit at drop off for about three days but they told us that he would stop once he came inside and start playing. He's been enthusiastic to go every day since then. Preschool has been the best thing to happen to him for ages! 

    This sounds dead-on for us too. Although our 2 year old is getting used to the masks. There is no way a teacher can avoid hugging/touching toddlers. I honestly believe in the “ripping-off the bandaid“ theory with toddler drop-offs. COVID is just helping us get on with it!

    I don't have any advice to offer - just more solidarity.  We are in the exact same boat. In our case, I have asked the school director about this issue specifically, and I became quite sad as I read through all the schools COVID adaptations (though I credit the school with being very mindful and detail-oriented in this aspect). In our case, the school thoughtfully sent pictures of the teachers with and without masks and have described to us the drop-off process in advance.  As our son's start date approaches, we will talk more about the transition and try to prepare him the best we can.  The school director in our case included a note about crying - that we should expect it in the beginning - and to trust that the capable teachers will be able to handle making the new littles feel welcome and comfortable and to keep good-byes, brief, matter-of-fact and upbeat, imbued with confidence that they will have a good time.  The school also suggested that we prepare the kids, letting them know teachers will be wearing masks, just like they see thier parents/guardians or people in public wearing masks.  Gosh, it would have been hard enough to shepherd our Littles throough a new school transition without this dystopian scenario.  I am trying to trust that the kids are resilient, adaptable,  In our son's case, I am hoping that after he adjusts to the new environment, that he will accept that this is how school is - he doesn't know any previous version of school to compare. Sigh.  

    Hello! My daughter had already attended her daycare for a year, and she basically walked right in the door without me. I was impressed! it would be great if there was a way for the primary teacher who will work with your child to do a few 5-10 minute zoom sessions with and without a mask on. That way your child is familiar with their face/masked face/voice. If your one of only a few parents with a 'new' kid, could they consider a for-fee weekend visit, where you, the primary teacher, and your child play in the play room for an hour with masks on? Just thinking of ways to get around the transition days that one would normally have when starting at a new place. I will say that my daughter LOVES seeing the other kids and has such a great time-- at this age they aren't particularly concerned if they are home all the time, but they definitely love all the structure and child-child interaction at school! Best of luck, I hope you find the right balance!

    Reading through and a lot of people seem to be "waiting for things to return to normal" but they might be like this for years. If you fear is legitimately about contracting covid, then that is one thing. If the fear is that your toddler is going to have a weird first year of school, well then you're not giving your kid enough credit! Kids are so adaptable as long as we, the parents, let them be. Yes, our job is to keep them safe, but if your fear is that they will think this is weird, well it is! And if you are afraid that they'll be freaked out by masks? They'll get used to it. Fear of covid, sure, do what is right for your family. But keeping them home because you don't want them to be in a slightly weird situation (which may or may not be the new norm for years and also life is just weird) is only telling me that you don't have confidence in your kids. Kids are amazing and resiliant. My toddler is constantly surprising me. And he has so much confidence because he knows I believe in him. Give your kids a little credit. Question what you're afraid of and where that fear is coming from. If next year looks like this too, what will you do? Keep waiting? Your kids are growing and learning now, give them the chance if all you are afraid of is a little weirdness. We sent our 2.5 year old back a few weeks ago and he's SO happy to be with kids again. And the reduced stress of not having full time work and child care has been so great for my husband and me. Best of luck to everyone! 

    We had this exact same worry and unenrolled our daughter for fall. Not sure if it was the right choice, but we are doing small socially distant pods with local families instead for socialization purposes. I think it would have felt different if she had gone there pre-COVID and was returning, had friends there, etc. Could you set up play dates with some kids from the preschool in advance that are in the same situation so that they’re starting school with friends? Feels like there’s no good solution, we’re just making the best choices we can. 

    I was worried about the transition because as a single mom my daughter had spent 4 months basically with only me in the house.  She also had some stranger anxiety and had a hard time leaving me at some points - even to go to the grandparents while outside (and I was still present!).  I spoke to my pediatrician who was great and basically told me my daughter might have a hard time adjusting, but she would ultimately get past it.

    The preschool we are going to has some of the policies you mention:  more focus on individual projects, masks for teachers and staff at all times (some also wear gloves at all times), parents cannot go past the opening doorway, temp checks, cleaning times/zones, and limitation to only the pod of kids you're in, and 1 teacher.  I did get to hang out with my daughter (gloves on, masked and in a corner) for 1 hour upon her first day.  We went for an hour together and stayed far away from teacher and other students.  After that it was 2 hours by herself, 3.5 hours by herself, and then a full day.  The teacher has been GREAT.  They still comfort the kids, she carefully removed her mask for a hot second so my daughter could see her smile, and they still interact.

    My daughter surprised all of us by taking a grand total of 3 days to get used to things.  She ate lunch and slept on her 2nd day of school.  SECOND!!!  She is excited to go, and she talks about school all the time when home.  She talks about her teacher and the other students and calls them all her friends.  She loves her projects, and she is a happy, dirty camper by the end of the day.  She goes three days out of the week (Tu/W/Th).  This has been a GODSEND.  I'm a better mother, she's a more socialized kid.  She's been going almost a month now and we haven't looked back.

    Kids are resilient.  She knows I wear a mask, and she didn't think anything of it for others.

    It's been great for us, hope great for you.

  • Our son is approaching 1 year and the adage in bay area is to start looking even earlier than this. Have mostly been dealing with work stress and keeping baby at home but trying to figure out how to enroll or even learn more about Pre-schools when now its near impossible to visit them to better understand whether they'll be good.

    Any advice? Resources or links are super helpful.

    I don't have any general advice, but (depending on where you're located) I'd recommend looking into OrcKids in Albany. We've sent both our kids to their original location Sunflowers in Oakland and I'd recommend them to anyone! We've been happy with their precautions (masks for grownups and lots of handwashing). I'm pretty sure they have openings in Albany and they're being careful to schedule tours when there aren't kids there, which I think is a good sign of how seriously they're taking health and safety even though it does make it less convenient. 

    I’m going to possibly ruffle some feathers, but I say wait until you have a better handle on what your child’s temperament, interests and development trajectory are. The differences in my kids have been striking and each has needed a different preschool  environment. There would have been no way I would have been able to know what each kid’s needs were that early. Even though we waited, even then the program we picked for one was not a good fit and we transferred out early on. The other only spent one year in a placement then switched out the next year.  I swear not everyone gets on a waiting list when their kid is in utero! And with COVID-19 you will have no way of knowing if whatever program you choose two years in advance will even still be around when your kid is preschool age. Relax and enjoy your remaining time with your kid. It goes by so quickly!

  • Hello,

    Our family of three is planning to relocate to Berkeley(space, the beautiful flowers, the list goes on) from San Francisco. Our 3.5 year old son goes to Katherine Michiels School in San Francisco. Will preschool admissions in Berkeley occur at their regular rate or will they slow down because of the need to maintain space in the school area? Does anyone know if this has happened already? My concern is that it would make finding a vacancy that much harder(or impossible) for maybe the entire next year.

    Kind Regards


    I think you might have to reach out to your preschools of choice and inquire. Our preschool (open for essential workers) is enrolling because there are kids leaving for TK and K, and they'll need to fill the spots. Good luck! 

  • I was wondering if anyone knows if preschools are accepting new kids now with a start date after the SIP is lifted (we are not essential workers so kids are home now).  I was having a hard time getting my preschooler into a preschool of my choice but I am hearing that a lot of people are now withdrawing from preschools to avoid having to pay and several preschools are low on enrollment.  Do you know if preschools are trying to fill those spots now?  I'm ok paying tuition during the pandemic and support the preschool with the hope that in a month or two when this is over my kid will have a spot.  The preschools I'm looking into are year round so the summer coming up is not a concern.  I'm going to try to send some emails but wanted to check to see if anyone went through the process since if new students are not accepting now that it will be a waste of time to try applying since I don't want to pay several application fees to just get on long waiting lists I have no chance to get off of until my kid is in school. Anyone in this situation or tried contacting the preschools about this?

    I've contacted 6 preschools. 4 of the 6 got back to me and said they were planning to open in Fall 2020 as of now. 3 of them had availability for Fall 2020. The other 2 that did not get back to me - I suspect some preschools will also unfortunately be permanently closing. Reaching out directly and following up with questions has been where I've gotten my questions answered. I feel fairly confident I can get my son into *a* preschool in Fall 2020, but I am not sure if there will be guidelines in place that limit enrollment and/or restrict hours. In other words, I am casting a wide net and not trying to have my heart set on the top choice. No one has mentioned application fees and putting me on waitlist, though I'm still in preliminary talks with everyone.

    I know my kid's school is not accepting new students right now, because they can only open with lower numbers due the restrictions on group sizes. 

    I know our preschool in El Cerrito is accepting new students and is currently open following the new state guidelines. I think it's probably a preschool by preschool basis.  Also, our preschool has seen a decrease in enrollment due to lay offs and people feeling uncomfortable sending their kids to school during SIP.  So depending on where you are located, I would think you will be able to get your kid in preschool as enrollment has decreased.

  • 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?


    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. 

  • Hello BPN Community,

    I am wrestling with the decision whether to send my son to preschool in Fall 2020 (he will be 2.5 at that time) vs. keep him with his current nanny for another year.  I know this is a very personal decision and others have posted about this.  One school we looked at is Children's Workshop Oakland and skimming BPN for reviews I find only a few very brief (though positive) comments.

    Does anyone have recent experience with this school and would you be willing to share your thoughts (privately or publicly)?  

    Thank you in advance!

    hi!   I can't comment on the particular daycare center but I am an educator and we are being told that we might still be teaching online in the Fall.   So for safety's sake, I'd encourage you to postpone your decision at least until January 2021.   He can enter mid-year or just wait until Fall 2021.  good luck during these difficult times. 

  • Is it possible for a daycare to offer anything useful online for 2-year olds? Our daycare is sending lots of email advice, and trying to organize sing-alongs, but I find this more frustrating than useful. Is any type of remote care or instruction possible for the under 3 set? We also have a 5 year old, and for that age, zoom circle time and other online content seems useful. Our daycare is also trying to figure out what to do about tuition for the coming months. Any insights from what your daycare is doing would be helpful.

    Our daycare is not doing much for the 2-year-olds, and I'm not mad about it. The teacher called to check in. I appreciate her concern, but I'm not sure there's much to realistically expect of these folks, remotely. We are paying them to watch our kid while we're at work, and they can't do that now. My 2yo definitely doesn't understand Zoom meetups. Right now, our family hasn't lost income, and so we are going to continue to pay the daycare, even though he's not going. I know our daycare doesn't have a financial cushion, and I want the staff to keep getting paid. I want them to be able to pay their rent. And I want them to still be in business when we're all allowed out of our houses again, so I'm sending my usual tuition checks as scheduled. It is understandably a different calculation for those who are out of work right now. 

    Ours so far is remaining open, but only the essential worker parents are sending kids at this time. Husband and I are both working from home with our 2 and 4 years olds home until who knows when. 

    Months ago we had planned to move the 2 y.o. to preschool April 15. In light of SIP and worry for our daycare provider’s income being impacted, we decided to pay for an extra month) even though our daughter will not be going. Our daycare provider has always been there for us and as long as we remain able to (or both have our jobs), we want to be there for her.  That said, I fully understand that everyone’s situation is different right now and we are all just doing the best we can. 

    Zoom does not work well for the little ones so doing daycare instruction online is not very helpful.  Our daycare is just close for now and we are still paying the usual tuition.  Once shelter in place is lifted and they re-open we are looking forward to going back, and in the meantime we have a parent's group online where we exchange pictures of kids so kids can browse picts of each other.  My kid loves it.