Precautions at forefront with in-classroom learningNov 09, 2020 02:33PM ● By Heather Lawrence
Reminders at Spring Lane Elementary: kids attending school must wear masks, there’s no parent entry on school grounds and social distancing is enforced by spray painted dots. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
Throughout Granite School District, families can choose their learning modality. It’s a fancy way to say they can send their children to school for face-to-face instruction, keep them home doing distance learning or a hybrid of the two. Kati Price’s son, who for privacy reasons the City Journals will call Peter, attends a Holladay preschool. Price said she feels he’s safe there.
“Peter is 3 ½ years old. I work full time, and I found out about Buttons and Bows preschool from a friend. I’m so happy I found it. They’re doing a fabulous job, and he’s well cared for,” Price said.
Price said the school is organized and up front about their precautions. “No one is allowed in the building besides students and teachers. When we drop-off and pick-up kids, we wear masks,” Price said.
While the weather was warm, Price said the school spent a lot of time outdoors. “They have a gigantic playground, and children need to be outside. They take their temperature and log it each day. They sing the ABCs while they wash their hands. And all the parents signed a waiver that if we had sick contacts, we’d quarantine,” Price said.
While kids in older grades are required to wear masks, pre-K kids are not, for various reasons. Price said she’s fine with that. “I don’t want to make my 3 year old wear a mask. I get that the virus affects everyone differently, but based on the CDC numbers for kids his age, I think he’s fine,” Price said.
There are other reasons for pre-K students not to wear masks. “Kids that age are still learning language—they’re learning to talk. They need to see my mouth move, I need to see theirs,” said Ali Dedman, who runs Buttons and Bows Daycare and Preschool in Holladay.
When schools shut down in March and Dedman’s numbers dropped to just 15 kids and two teachers, she wondered about her students’ social development.
“Early childhood education is about learning social and emotional skills. Learning to sit in your chair and what manners are. They’re important skills to learn for self-regulation before you can start academic learning. In-person learning is so important for them,” Dedman said.
In talking with other directors of early childhood programs, Dedman said there is a consensus that “kids who have maintained consistency and attended school have done much better emotionally over the last several months. Some who stayed home developed anxiety, but we’ve seen it slowly dissipate as they’ve gotten back to their school routine,” Dedman said.
Early childhood programs usually include meals and snacks. Breakfast and snacks are provided at Dedman’s school and lunch is brought from home. Price said she would be happy to pay more if lunch were included.
“I work full time and so lunch would be one less thing I have to do. My son is an only child and he’s very social, and he needs that interaction with other kids whether it’s at playtime, lunchtime or learning time,” Price said.
In the early days of the pandemic, many parents could stay home with their kids. But Dedman said the reality is that most parents can’t keep that up, so they need a place they can trust for childcare.
“The reality of the world is that parents work. Even parents who can work from home have a hard time getting things done with a preschooler at home. We’re a relatively small school and can keep our class sizes small. Little kids are petri dishes anyway—that doesn’t change because of the pandemic,” Dedman said.
Price agrees and feels she’s found someone she can trust. “Dedman and her husband Dan love what they do. They are making a difference. I feel well informed and that my child is safe,” Price said.