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The City Journals

What the Bennion Learning Center is doing to slow the spread

Oct 12, 2020 01:17PM ● By Carl Fauver

Occasional crazy hat days are among the ways Bennion Learning Center staff members liven things up for their children. (Bennion Learning Center)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

One of the Salt Lake Valley’s leading child development and day care sites is succeeding at keeping COVID-19 away from its kids, while also stepping up to assist area residents with immunization needs. The Bennion Learning Center (3337 W. 6200 S.) recently hosted a pair of no-cost immunization clinics, where 50 adults and children were vaccinated.

“We are so grateful to our community partners for helping to make our immunization days a success,” said Bennion Learning Center Director Shauna Avila. “Walgreens [Pharmacy] (5586 W. 6200 S.) staff members came to our center the first week and administered flu vaccinations to 38 people. Then a week later, staff from the Community Nursing Services Immunization Clinic (2830 S. Redwood Road) provided other vaccinations to 12 more adults and children. This is the first time we have ever done this. There weren’t as many people as we had hoped for, but we will try it again next year.” 

Avila has been director of the Bennion Learning Center since new owners Ed and Teresa Dieringer bought the business in 2008. The location is large enough to accommodate some 200 kids on its roster, and 131 on site at a time. But the coronavirus has devastated those numbers, as it has at similar day cares and learning centers across the state and nation.

“Lots of parents are now working from home and are afraid to bring their kids to places like ours,” Avila said. “Prior to COVID, we had a waiting list. But now we are only averaging about 70 kids per day. About 30% of Salt Lake Valley day care centers have gone out of business since the virus arrived.”

Avila is not so much worried about the Bennion Learning Center and her job going away, as she is about the children.

“These little kids need world experiences; they need to socialize; they are missing important learning opportunities,” she said. “Sitting at home is not good for them. It makes me sad when 3- and 4-year-old kids aren’t talking, playing and laughing. They miss so much. We need to take time to teach them about the virus but also about maintaining a balance in their lives. Right now, we are teaching our kids fear.”

More than five months into the pandemic, in early September, the 20 full time and two part-time employees at the Bennion Learning Center were batting 100% against the virus. Not a single child had contracted COVID-19.

“Our kids all wear masks, and we clean the center thoroughly,” Avila said. “We check temperatures of parents and kids at drop-off every day. And parents are no longer allowed inside. We’ve stopped doing show and tell, so kids aren’t bringing toys from home. And each day when the kids arrive, they put their coats and backpacks into large individual Ziploc bags.”

Avila is comfortable enough with all of the procedures that she has no issue with one of her granddaughters working alongside her at the center.

Taylorsville community activist Lynette Wendel has known Avila for several years and was among those who volunteered during the Bennion Learning Center immunization clinics.

“Shauna reached out to me for suggestions after hearing from families telling her doctors offices were too busy and they could not get their kids’ school immunizations,” Wendel said. “Bennion Learning Center is a great Taylorsville business that serves so many kids. And the center does phenomenal community service projects for our families. Shauna is so highly engaged in early child development. I was happy to help out.”

Bennion Learning Center serves infants and toddlers ages 0 to 5, while also operating its own kindergarten, including before-and-after care. It also operates after school programs for children ages 6 to 12.

For more information on the center, call 801-965-1216 or email [email protected].

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