According to recent data, almost 20% of child care facilities in the U.S. have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and approximately 70% of centers that are still open have seen a drop in enrollment. There’s no doubt COVID-19 has disrupted our industry, and we’re all learning how to handle new developments on the fly.
My name is Christine DeSanti, the chief customer officer of LifeCubby, a top-rated child care center management software developed by a center owner for center owners. Prior to joining LifeCubby in 2011 as the company’s first employee, I spent my career teaching children and managing childcare centers — at one time, I oversaw almost 200 children. So, I understand the struggles you face daily during the best of times, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges you have encountered over the past year.
As children begin a new school year, whether returning to in-person care or going virtual, “back-to-school” looks much different for parents, teachers, staff and most importantly, the kids.
As we continue welcoming students back this fall, there are a number of ways you can operate more safely and efficiently. Below is a list of best practices, along with ways LifeCubby can help you navigate these difficult times.
1. Ensure clear, concise communication.
Now, more than ever before, quick, effective communication is critical to the success of your school or center. Consider incorporating center-wide SMS messages to communicate closure updates, preventative health measures and other issues impacting your families. LifeCubby offers a number of solutions, including in-app live messaging for quickly communicating with families individually as well as pre-loaded COVID-19 eblast templates for sharing quick updates about exposures, policies and more.
2. Adjust arrival and departure procedures.
This includes staggering arrival and drop-off times to limit direct contact between parents. You might also consider establishing other protocols like prohibiting teachers from unbuckling/buckling children in car seats (leave that to the parents) to mitigate potential risks. LifeCubby’s check-in/check-out feature can be completed in seconds and can help ensure both are done quickly and efficiently
3. Create cohorts (pods of students and staff).
Cohorting forms student groups that stay together throughout the school day to minimize exposure for students, teachers and staff across the school environment. LifeCubby includes a staffing ratio alert to help ensure you always maintain the right mix of staff and students.
4. Eliminate paper correspondence with parents.
In the last several years, even before the pandemic, more and more businesses began moving away from paper. By eliminating paper correspondence, you decrease the risk of contamination and more importantly, eliminate unnecessary close contact required to exchange physical documents. With the LifeCubby Family App, parents and teachers can stay connected via digital daily sheets, incident reports and more.
5. Institute a daily health screening.
Every day should start with a quick, simple screening, that includes a checklist of health-related questions, to ensure the well-being of everyone in the classroom. Utilizing LifeCubby’s “Daily Health Checks” feature, you can closely monitor your students’ health and note anything that changes throughout the day.
6. Incorporate classroom newsletters.
Ensure you’re fully-utilizing this important communication resource. The classroom newsletter is a great vehicle for sharing resources, lesson plans and more on a class-wide basis. This is especially important if you’re dealing with a mix of in-person and virtual students, as you want to ensure everyone is on the same page and nothing slips through the cracks.
7. Personalize lesson plans.
As a result of the pandemic, teachers must accommodate in-person attendance, virtual learning and hybrid combinations of the two to address each student’s particular situation. Now more than ever, it’s critical to tailor each session to meet individual student needs. LifeCubby simplifies life for teachers and families by keeping everyone up-to-date with our “Calendar and Lesson Planner” feature. Lesson activities can be tagged for learning domains — a feature unique to our software. Teachers can also use LifeCubby to record observations and track student progress.
COVID-19 has upended our industry and disrupted everything we know; however, one thing hasn’t changed: LifeCubby’s dedication to making childcare easier for professionals like yourself. While many of the practices and features mentioned above address school operations during the pandemic, all of LifeCubby’s functionality can be utilized during the best times to help you effectively manage your schools and centers.
Christine DeSanti is the chief customer officer of LifeCubby. Throughout her career, she has held a number of positions in the early childhood education space and served on several organization’s boards. DeSanti was instrumental in launching the Central Ohio Christian Directors group and served on several committees for education licensing in the state. DeSanti holds a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood development from The Ohio State University.