With preschoolers beneath the applicable age for many coronavirus prevention measures, parents and childcare providers alike have worked hard to find safe options for their young ones this school year.
The owner of Ms. Jill’s Place, an in-home childcare center in Great Falls, Jill Skinner, said she’s noticed worry among parents preparing to send their preschoolers back to school.
“There’s a lot of panic with parents thinking 'oh my gosh school’s about to start and we are about to have mass groups of kids together',” Skinner said.
However, Skinner reassured them providers like herself have managed to provide child care throughout the pandemic without any issues.
“Childcare providers are over here going hey, we’ve been doing it this whole time,” Skinner said.
However, in-home facilities like Ms. Jill’s Place have experienced some regulatory changes in response to the pandemic - like temperature checks and hand sanitation upon arrival, as well as daily health check-ins and mask wearing for children age 5.
“We have - I think - 3 five year olds right now, and I'm gonna have them bring masks in this next month because they are going to kindergarten soon and I don’t want once they get in to school it to be like ‘ Hey, you get a mask, you get to wear that now’, so we’re gonna be practicing here, having them wear them a little bit,” Skinner said.
Besides taking those necessary health measures, class is set to resume as normal.
“For the kids it’s just trying to keep them on their normal routine,” Skinner said.
Many childcare providers like Skinner hope to maintain a routine to provide their children with a sense of certainty during this uncertain time.
Skinner’s neighbor Amanda Mcnee cares for her four-year-old granddaughter and was determined to provide the preschooler a structured learning environment.
"She does very well with structure and schedules. and obviously when she's home with me that changes a little bit, because I'm on the computer all day. When she’s at daycare they have a very set schedule and she knows when she’s going to be doing what and I think that helps the behavior and her learning a great deal more than being at home without much of a schedule,” Mcnee said.