It has been nearly a year since COVID-19 became a reality we all had to live with and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began recommending social distancing, increased handwashing and more to prevent its spread. Things have changed and are almost guaranteed to continue changing as we continue learning about the virus.
There’s always been a lot to consider when selecting a childcare or summer camp provider, but COVID-19 has created new areas that parents and guardians should consider asking about. Here are four questions to ask.
1. What is the provider’s refund policy?
As we learned in 2020, our world can change – and rapidly! With this in mind, it is important to know what the refund policy for your summer camp and/or childcare provider is. In 2020, many families and providers were placed in difficult situations when some summer camps were not able to open their programs—or able to offer refunds for those who had already registered.
What happens if your provider is required to close due to a government-mandated shutdown? What if children and/or staff have to quarantine due to a potential or confirmed COVID case? What if your family needs to make changes to your child’s enrollment due to a job loss or health issue? Asking for a provider’s full refund policy can help you plan, avoid surprises and save you headaches later.
2. How is social distancing managed by the provider?
Children and personal space are not two things that often go hand in hand! That’s why many camp and childcare programs utilize stable groups, which have been recommended by the CDC, the American Camping Association and the State of Pennsylvania. Stable groups are student and staff cohorts that stay together and function autonomously from all other groups at the facility. It limits exposure potential and reduces risk, but still allows kids to be kids and engage with friends.
You may also want to consider how the provider handles child drop-off and pick-up. Many facilities are managing this process outside, where parents can remain in their vehicles to further limit additional exposure. (Bonus….being able to drop your child off outside can save you time and the hassle of having to park and lug in all their stuff!)
3. What health and safety practices and/or policies do you have in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible?
Many of the recommended CDC practices and policies have now become commonplace for our daily activities including mask-wearing, temperature and health screenings and thorough cleaning and disinfecting practices.
Summer camp and childcare programs should adhere to current CDC guidelines and many have instituted their own policies going above what is required. Polices should include things we’ve discussed above such as health screenings, frequent handwashing, mask-wearing for all participants over the age of two, social distancing, stable groups and cleaning and disinfection schedules.
4. What happens if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?
Whether or not they have experience dealing with cases in their program, licensed childcare providers are required by the State of Pennsylvania to have a Health and Safety plan that includes information on how they manage operations if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
The YMCA has safely provided childcare and summer camp – including Learning Centers – to thousands of students across Chester County at eight YMCA locations. YGBW’s childcare programs and Learning Centers are currently open for enrollment. Visit ymcagbw.org/childcare for information.
Summer camp registration for 2021 opens on February 1, 2021, with early bird pricing running through February 28. Interested families can sign up now to receive registration information and reminders at ymcagbw.org/camp.
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