Dear families and staff of Children’s Discovery Centers,
As the owner of the Children’s Discovery Center pre-schools, I have been working with my school administrators to plan for what we will do during these complex and troubling times. Obviously, we want to protect everyone in our community from contracting the Coronavirus and stay well. We also have to try and balance our families need for child care, employee’s need to continue to be paid, and ultimately the need to keep the school afloat financially. Some of the planning we do now might change as the situation evolves, but we feel like we need to have a plan based on what we know now and also to respond to what the public school system is doing.
As most of you probably know, AISD just announced that they plan to be closed till April 3rd and the University of Texas announced they will be closed till March 27th. Those decisions are based on the known current situation of the virus in Austin, and the guidance given by The City of Austin to limit the number of people gathered at one place to less than 250. Our pre-schools are not that large, so we don’t fall under those City guidelines, but we still want to respect that many people in our community do not feel comfortable interacting with others at this point in time.
As a child development program, the population we serve is not a high risk population, but at the same time we want to make sure there is not a high risk of transmission simply by being open. As we balance all of these aspects, we feel like the following plan would be the best course of action for our families and our staff:
As of right now, we plan to re-open the schools after next week, after a full 14 days of being closed. So as of March 30th we will open our doors, but we need the community to help us minimize the risk of being open. We encourage any and all families that have the ability to keep their kids at home to do so for as much of the time as possible. We know that some families are working from home, and have a bit more flexibility than families who have jobs that require them to be on the job. By emphasizing this strategy, we can help out the folks that need to be out in the community helping others like doctors, nurses, first responders and such.
Of course we will implement the protocols outlined by Child Care Licensing, the Health Department as well as the CDC guidelines (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html,https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus,https://hhs.texas.gov/about-hhs/communications-events/news/2020/03/hhs-monitors-covid-19-provides-new-guidance-child-care-facilities). These websites detail the steps we will take for hygiene, the restrictions on who can enter the school, guidelines for who can attend school and also the questions that will be asked of families who attend the school. Adhering to these protocols will ensure that we are taking all the precautions necessary to stay safe. We will not run the school busses to Discovery School the week of 3/30 to 4/3. We also ask that parents that do attend bring all the food your child needs including snacks. We are trying to focus on the safety of the schools, and shopping for snacks the week of 3/30-4/3 would distract from that mission
This strategy gives us a bit more time for the community to get used to the new protocols like social distancing, more vigorous hand washing regimens and the other safety precautions that we are all seeing implemented across the world. As those norms become integrated in our daily lives, resuming operations will allow for families that need care to be able to access it, as well as allow our staff the ability to continue to be able to work. We will continuously monitor the situation and take any and all steps necessary as the progress in fighting the virus evolves.
Please feel free to ask any questions you have, we want the entire community to feel safe and satisfied that appropriate decisions are being made. It would also be helpful if you could let us know if you plan to attend the week of 3/30-4/3.