Preschool during Covid

Parent Q&A

Preschools in Oak/Berk for 4yr olds that require masks? Sep 19, 2020 (5 responses below)
Preschool cohort/pod of 18 kids? Sep 17, 2020 (5 responses below)
What does your preschool look like inside during COVID? Aug 25, 2020 (13 responses below)
Is your preschool implementing a COVID surcharge? Jul 18, 2020 (22 responses below)
Thoughts on sending child to preschool during covid Jul 15, 2020 (5 responses below)
Anxious about 2 year old's preschool transition during pandemic Jul 13, 2020 (13 responses below)
Looking for a preschool in COVID-19 time? Jul 3, 2020 (2 responses below)
Preschool Openings in Berkeley Given Covid May 22, 2020 (1 responses below)
Do preschools accept new kids now? Apr 29, 2020 (3 responses below)
Preschool Distance Learning & Tuition during Shelter-in-Place Apr 27, 2020 (7 responses below)
Start preschool in the fall or wait? Apr 13, 2020 (1 responses below)
What is your daycare doing during the Covid19 closure? Mar 25, 2020 (3 responses below)
  • 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,

    Lisa

    Mi Mundo in Berkeley requires masks, they have openings. https://mimundopreschool.com/living-with-covid/ 

    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.

  • Preschool cohort/pod of 18 kids?

    (5 replies)

    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. 

  • 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? 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Looking for a preschool in COVID-19 time?

    (2 replies)

    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

    Saptarshi

    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! 

  • Do preschools accept new kids now?

    (3 replies)

    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?

    Hi,

    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! 

  • Start preschool in the fall or wait?

    (1 reply)

    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.