As childcare centers re-open across Sarasota County, the experience will look a lot different for parents, teachers and children. A taskforce of early learning professionals came together to set unified COVID-19 guidelines to safely operate local centers and support families making childcare decisions.
Facilitated by the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, a collaborative effort was made to compile recommendations from the CDC, Department of Health, and lessons learned in the field to establish clear operating protocols for early learning facilities amid COVID-19. Healthcare professionals and disease specialists at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital were consulted on the project.
“Our childcare providers have been in a state of flux trying to interpret high level recommendations and create new operating protocols,” says Teri A Hansen, Barancik Foundation President and CEO. “This collaboration to adopt local best practices affirms the leadership and professionalism of our early childhood educators.”
The taskforce established minimum recommendations, including guidance on daily health screenings, facility sanitization and preventative measures to reduce the spread of germs. The goal is to offer staff and parents practical, affordable, and enforceable guidelines. The Early Learning Coalition will distribute the guidelines broadly to their network of more than 170 childcare centers. Providers are being asked to adopt the recommendations and communicate the standards to the families in their care.
“Parents have to know they are making the right decision when they drop off their child,” says Janet Kahn, Executive Director of Early Learning Coalition. “We know quality childcare is critical to our region’s economic recovery and these guidelines are designed to protect everyone as we return to work and school.”
Parents can find quality child care availability on the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County website at www.earlylearningcoalitionsarasota.org