COVID-19 Response – May 19, 2020

The current version of this document is here.

Links To All COVID-19 Response Announcements

April 22, 2020 – Response to COVID-19 Q & A”

May 5, 2020 – Reopening Health & Safety Regulations

May 22, 2020 – Financial Adjustments to Assist Families

Dear Families of First Church Preschool,

We sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and in good spirits. You are on our minds and in our hearts, and we truly wish you all the best.

As mandates and guidance continue to evolve regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to update you on our current actions, decisions, and thoughts as of today, May 19, 2020:

Will First Church Preschool come back together in person this school year?

Unfortunately, we will not be able to reopen the preschool prior to June 12, 2020, our last day of the school year program.  We will, however, continue to provide distance learning according to our present schedule of online Zoom class meetings and office hours through that date.  Governor Lamont’s most recent directive has canceled all public schools within the State of CT for the remainder of the academic year.  While this directive certainly has a great impact on determining when we will reopen in person, current regulations put forth by the CT Office of Early Childhood (OEC), our licensing agent, also have bearing on our decision. Considerations that influenced our decision include, among many others: (i) new regulations that cap group sizes at 10 children per classroom, which would not allow us to welcome all children back together, and (ii) many of our teachers either have children at home due to the cancelation of public schools or fall within the high-risk category for contracting the virus.  

Knowing that we will not return to school for this school year, we are busy planning end of the year celebrations, and you will find more details about those events in the coming issues of The Prism.  Further, the teachers will be cleaning out their classrooms and gathering any of the children’s belongings, which will be returned to you either at the end of the year celebrations or by special arrangements if you cannot participate in the planned events.  Also, if you have questions or concerns about your child’s development and would like to discuss with your teachers, please feel free to schedule time during their office hours, or contact them via their classroom email to arrange an alternate time, as need be.

Will First Church Preschool Summer Program take place?

It is with a heavy heart that we must cancel our Summer Program 2020.  We feel that we need to focus all of our attention and resources toward meeting the health and safety regulations being put forth by the OEC and readying ourselves to hopefully start the new school year together, in person, in September.  For those of you who have already enrolled in our summer program and are also registered for the ’20 – ’21 school year, we will apply the refund to your tuition balance if you like.  For those of you who are not returning, your payments will be returned within 30 days.  We regret any inconvenience this decision may cause.  We are truly disappointed, too, as we were looking forward to our summer program, which has been a staple of the community each summer for decades. 

Will First Church Preschool make any adjustments to the 2019 – 2020 tuition?

We are deeply empathetic to the toll that this pandemic has taken on the emotional and financial well being of our families.  We are carefully considering the financial impact of the new regulations on our program and expect to have a response for families by the end of May.

We have already returned unused payments for our Add-On Programs (Lunch, Afters, PM Playmore classes, and School Break Camps) to families who were enrolled.

We have paid our teachers through the end of the year, and believe that their dedication, creativity, and significant efforts to support your children during these unprecedented times warrants our support.  We certainly appreciate that distance learning is not ideal for meeting all the needs of our enrolled families, but we have endeavored to provide substantive content that aligns with our regular curriculum and support your family’s social and emotional well being throughout this period of high stress and uncertainty.

Will the ’20-’21 school year start on time in September?

We remain optimistic that the school year will begin on time, and we have begun planning for a safe return in September. 

Do I still have to pay tuition to hold my spot in the ’20 – ’21 school year program with so many unknowns?

We understand that many families may have uncertainties in your own personal lives in addition to the unknowns surrounding our anticipated safe return to school in the fall. Therefore, we have taken two steps to provide greater flexibility and certainty for our families:

  1. We have amended our tuition payment schedule for our 2020 – 2021 programming to allow more time for families to make payments. If you are already enrolled with us for the ’20 – ’21 school year and have a balance of tuition owed, we will send you an updated payment schedule ending with a final payment on December 1, 2020. If you have not yet enrolled with us but wish to do so now, we will require a deposit to hold a spot for your child, and your first tuition payment will be July 1st.  If you have already paid the full tuition for next school year, we thank you!
  2. In light of the new safety protocols that we will be implementing when we reopen, we will share the new procedures and requirements in detail once they are in final draft, and families will have one week from that date to confirm their child’s enrollment. If for any reason you decide to withdraw your child from the program during that one-week period, we will refund all tuition payments made to date, less the initial deposit.

What will school look like when we return?

Based on the OEC regulations, as well as mandates and guidelines put forth by authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the state and local Departments of Health, it is clear that social distancing requirements will remain in place for the unforeseeable future.  For our preschool, this means smaller classes with groups no larger than 10 children; preschool staff being equipped with personal protective equipment, including masks and aprons; staggered start and dismissal times for classes to minimize person-to-person interactions; daily wellness checks for both teachers, staff, and children upon arrival to school; revised illness policies; heightened cleaning and disinfecting practices; strict enforcement of our handwashing policy; and encouraging all adults and children to cover coughs and sneezes. There is also a possibility that we may need to cancel classes if a resurgence of the virus is reported within our preschool or local community, or by government mandate.  This may necessitate the implementation of periods of distance learning, as well as making amendments to the school calendar to allow for days to be made up where possible.   First Church Preschool is committed to doing whatever is necessary to create a safe environment for your children to learn, engage, grow, and prosper, and we are putting together plans for addressing these possibilities.  We will provide more substantive updates as developments occur and our plans are put together.

Will my child be ready for the next school year?

All children, in all grades, in all learning settings, are experiencing disruption from their usual school environment, as well as some form of distance learning. This means that all teachers, in all grades, in all schools, must adjust their curriculum accordingly when schools reopen to meet the children’s needs. In the meantime, our teachers are happy to help if you have questions or concerns about your child’s development and their response to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.  Please feel free to contact us and we will arrange a time to conference with our experienced and caring staff.

 Members of the Executive Preschool Board, Melanie, and I are meeting frequently, often several times per week, to assess the situation as it develops, and will continue to monitor and evaluate all available information.  We welcome your ongoing feedback on how we can continue to support you in this unprecedented time.  Please email us with your questions and input.

Be Well,

Darla Steiner, Director