Over the last year, local preschools managed pandemic pressures in different ways, but virtually all say they are looking forward to full classes when children return this fall — albeit with some health and safety measures in place.
Through the last year, some preschools in Moscow and Pullman said they were forced to close down — at least initially — but even those that stayed open reported dramatically reduced class sizes.
“In our facility, we have anywhere between 40 to 50 students enrolled and we were down to like 10 to 15 at one point,” said Rebecca Lidean, director of Grandma Bea’s Childcare Center in Moscow. “So many families were either concerned and didn’t want to bring their children with the chance of COVID going around.”
Lidean said Grandma Bea’s closed down entirely for a few months at the start of the school year but opened to the children of essential workers during that time before reopening fully later in the year.
Mark Goddard, director and owner of the Learning Center in Pullman, said they were able to avoid closure but at one point, the center was serving just 10 children compared to its usual capacity of more than 100.
Masking requirements for children varied from preschool to preschool but most required parents and teachers to wear face coverings while indoors and many did not allow parents into their facilities. Director of Moscow Day School Mandi Harley said her organization was able to remain open but children, parents and teachers were all expected to mask — and that will continue into the fall as the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to drive surges in cases both nationwide and globally.
“We’ll stick with this plan for a while, just because of the new delta variant we’re now facing,” Harley said. “Our utmost concern is to make sure not only our kids are safe, but also our teachers and that everybody’s having fun and learning throughout their day here and we can only do that if we’re open.”
Director of Emmanuel Lutheran Preschool Nikki Cox, said her operation shut down for the full year but the church opened a daycare separate from the preschool to serve the children of emergency workers. She said the preschool is now fully staffed and prepared to come back to its full capacity of about 30 children. However children, faculty and parents will be required to mask up for the time being until the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Moscow School District loosen their recommendations.
“Those are kind of our two (groups) that we look up to and kind of do what they’re doing,” she said.
While there has been some need for adjustment, many organizations said parents have been amenable to working with the restrictions, which Cox said will help everyone to return to some semblance of normalcy.
“With the support of our community and our parents and families and teachers, I think my outlook is just very hopeful — we’ll get through it,” she said. “I’m really excited to have kids together again, though, and just socializing.”
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