As you may be aware, unfortunately the current community spread of COVID-19 has been increasing across our local area and state.
Hobson School Temporary Pause: November 25-January 18 Out of an abundance of caution and to account for potential family gatherings and holiday travel, the Parent Board voted to temporarily pause all classes starting November 25th and ending January 18th. Hobson School is licensed to operate during Phases 3 and 4 of Restore IL, we are planning for all classes to resume January 19th.
Changes to snack and schedule: Effective January 19th Now that we’ve been in session for a couple months, we’ve learned quite a bit about running our program under current guidance. Our staff has observed that offering snack with the current restrictions presents challenges for teachers, it no longer offers the social benefits it used to, and it increases risk of spread of COVID-19. For these reasons, when classes resume in January, we will no longer be serving snack and, as required by DCFS licensing, we will be shortening class by 30 minutes.
REOPENING PLANS AND GUIDELINES Updated 10/20
Research has shown that being outside significantly reduces the risk of infection by COVID-19. To promote the health and safety of Hobson families, Hobson School is enhancing and redesigning our outdoor classroom to offer a preschool experience that immerses children in nature, rain or shine! Hobson students will be brought indoors to access the bathrooms and in the event of extreme weather, such as thunder and lightning, heavy winds, and temperatures that drop above or below what is safe as determined by DCSF regulations.
Hobson School is a private, Illinois-based not-for-profit corporation licensed by the State of Illinois and complies with the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) licensing regulations for child care centers. Many of our existing school policies have been developed to meet DCFS regulations. As a licensed child care reopening during phases 3 and 4 of “Restore Illinois” Hobson School must abide by new licensing regulations as well as the Guidance published by the Department of Child and Family Services for all child care centers.
The regulations and guidance provided by DCFS are based on information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Illinois Department of Health (IDPH), and Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Education. DCFS recognizes It is critical that health and safety protocols are in alignment with the latest guidance from public health experts and informed by data. Prior to any changes in Guidance or rule, DCFS will evaluate recommendations of the CDC and IDPH to ensure a safe transition in restrictions.
As all schools are developing plans for reopening, please note that public schools operate under the State Board of Education which is a separate entity from the Department of Child and Family Services. Moving forward, Hobson School will continue to align with Naperville District 203 for inclement weather closures, but please note that Hobson will also continue to follow the regulations and guidance of our licensing body (DCFS and IDPH) for all other program operations.
Since the dissemination of the new DCFS licensing regulations and guidelines in late May, Hobson’s COVID-19 Task Force, Boards and Staff have spent the past month reviewing the DCFS licensing regulations and guidelines and assessing their impact on Hobson’s program and operations. After an in-depth evaluation of the regulations and guidelines, we have determined that Hobson School will be able to confidently:
Reopen Hobson School safely and in compliance with all of the required COVID-19 rules and procedures,
Continue to provide Hobson’s high-quality preschool experience and remain steadfast in our philosophy, and
Maintain Hobson’s current enrollment, have the opportunity to operate at full capacity, and as such retain staff.
Hobson School has developed a Reopening Plan that will support transitions between phases 3, 4, and 5 of Restore Illinois. The following document provides a high-level overview of what Hobson’s program will look like in 2020-2021 given the DCFS regulations and guidelines, and outlines how these changes impact the daily structure experienced by our staff, families and students.
Hobson School Parent Board of Directors, with the input of the Director, COVID-19 Task Force and Advisory Board, will continue to provide updated COVID-19 Policies and Procedures to better outline all of the changes the School must adopt in meeting the requirements made by DCFS.
Please note: Hobson School reserves the right to modify this document, and any other COVID-19 measures, per DCFS Guidance and/or Health Department regulation updates. It is critical that health and safety protocols are in alignment with the latest guidance from public health experts and informed by data.
Covid-19 Task Force In June 2020, Hobson's Advisory and Parent Boards provided consent for the formation and mission of the COVID-19 Task Force. Members of the Task Force include Beth Wilson (School Director), Sara Walker (Parent Board President), Jodi Greene (Parent Board Treasurer), Kate Hall (Parent Board Secretary), Kate Boyle (Advisory Board Chair), Jody Plywackzynski (Advisory Board Treasurer), Patrice Sullivan (Advisory Board Vice Chair) and Kathy Duncan (Advisory Board Secretary), Shannon Irwin (former Parent Personnel Chairperson). The COVID-19 Task Force will be responsible for reporting up-to-date information, soliciting feedback, and making recommendations to Hobson's Boards. The COVID-19 Task Force will always make recommendations that are in the best interest of the School and will incorporate feedback from anyone with expert knowledge and/or advice. To learn more about this Task Force or for any questions, please contact Beth Wilson at Director@hobsonschool.org.
Parent & Child Class There will be no changes to the days/hours of the Parent & Child (PC) class.
Preschool Classes The hours of the preschool program (Monday-Friday sessions) will be adjusted to ensure there is no intermixing of groups upon arrival and dismissal, to allow adequate transition time for required daily health screenings, and to allow for daily cleaning procedures between the AM and PM sessions. The School will be staggering arrival and drop off times to minimize intermixing of groups of people. In addition, Hobson will utilize outside spaces, when possible, to arrange the drop off and pick up of children. Please note that only one group in each class will be impacted by this adjustment to Hobson’s arrival and dismissal times.
In the AM classes:
Group 1 will arrive at 8:45 am and dismiss at 11:15 am
Group 2 will arrive at 9:00 am and dismiss at 11:30 am.
In the PM classes:
Group 1 will arrive at 12:30 pm and dismiss at 3:00 pm
Group 2 will arrive at 12:45 pm and dismiss at 3:15 pm
OVERVIEW OF PARENT AND CHILD CLASS
Because parents attend with their children and are responsible for the care of their children during the Parent and Child class, the class is not a part of Hobson’s licensed program. As such the Department of Child and Family Services has directed Hobson to align the PC class with the guidelines for gathering sizes as indicated in Restore Illinois, and adopt the health and safety procedures established for the school.
In phase 4 of Restore Illinois there can be gatherings of no more than 50 people and masks and social distancing are the norm. Therefore, during phase 4 Hobson will limit attendance for the 16 families in the PC class to 1 parent and 1 child for a total of 32 participants per class session. Hobson will use indoor and outdoor classrooms to ensure adequate physical space for participants, and masks and/or face coverings will be required for all adults, and expected and encouraged for children.
Should the State of Illinois return to phase 3, gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed, and masks and social distancing will be the norm. Therefore, In phase 3 Hobson will limit attendance for the 16 families in the PC class to 1 parent and 1 child, but the class of 16 families will be split into 2 groups. So 8 families, or a total of 16 participants, will attend class each session. To ensure compliance, participants will rotate the use of the indoor and outdoor classrooms to ensure that no more than 10 people gather in any one space at a time. Masks and/or face coverings will be required for all adults, and expected and encouraged for children. The two groups of families will rotate attendance each week, and tuition will be adjusted accordingly for our PC families.
OVERVIEW OF PRESCHOOL OF PRESCHOOL CLASSES (ages 3-5)
Hobson’s preschool program is fully licensed, and will operate under DCFS regulations and guidance. The School is licensed for classes of 20 children (ages 3-5) with two teachers in each class. Under the COVID-19 regulations and guidance, group size for children ages 3-5 has been adjusted to a maximum of 15 children with two teachers. In order to maintain Hobson’s current enrollment and provide an opportunity for the School to operate at capacity, Hobson’s Preschool classes will be split in half to create smaller groupings of children. Each class will function as two separate groups per class of no more than 10 children with 1 teacher.
Per the regulations, the separate groups established for each class will be permanent for the duration of stages 3 and 4, so the same children will be with the same teacher. The class groups can not intermix while at the School during phases 3 and 4, but class groups can blend in phase 5.
As for staffing:
The Director and/or Director’s substitute may support both groups in each class session,
Teachers may teach more than one class over the course of the week (and only one group of up to 10 students in each class),
Qualified substitute teachers may be utilized as needed.
CLASSROOM AND MATERIALS
Hobson’s building and grounds are utilized by one class at a time, and Hobson is fortunate to have a very large outdoor classroom, as well as two (2) indoor classrooms. These affordances allow Hobson to make adjustments to each classroom to accommodate the two groups within each class and ensure no intermixing of groups.
Hobson’s Outdoor classroom will be split in half to create two separate outdoor classroom areas. Each outdoor classroom area will have its own gate and entry to the building. Temporary fencing will be used to establish adequate distance between the two areas, and ensure no intermixing of groups. Class groups will rotate the use of the outdoor classrooms so children will experience both outdoor areas during the school year.
As a nature-based preschool Hobson’s program prioritizes spending a significant amount of time outdoors year-round. Given the documented benefits of being outdoors to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Hobson will maximize the use of its outdoor classroom, and groups may spend the duration of class time outdoors. The Director and Teachers reserve the right to adjust outdoor time using weather conditions and their own experience as their guide.
When inside, class groups will also rotate the use of the upstairs and downstairs classrooms so children will experience both indoor classrooms during the school year. All classroom layouts and materials will be adjusted to meet the DCFS requirements of a furnished primary classroom for a class size of 10.
Cleaning requirements and minimizing the sharing of materials among groups is central in how the School is planning to schedule the rotation of the outdoor and indoor classrooms. The bathroom will continue to be shared, and children and adults must wear masks in the bathroom. Frequent cleaning of the bathroom will occur throughout the day. The use of other common areas (e.g. Hobson’s foyer, stairwell and kitchenette) will be staggered between groups to ensure no intermixing.
Hobson School’s building and outdoor classroom will remain closed until further notice. This means our families will not be able to use the outdoor play yard during off-hours. Hobson’s leadership continues to focus all efforts on providing a safe environment for our students and we look forward to taking the necessary precautions to maintain a clean and healthy outdoor classroom.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE SCHOOL DAY
During the school day, personal hygiene practices as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required. Vigilant hand washing procedures must be followed by all persons at Hobson School. Per the required guidelines, the Director and/or Director’s substitute will serve as a “qualified staff member” and be designated to provide support and “float” between classrooms in order to relieve primary staff, help with cleaning, and snack time. Snack time will also be modified to decrease contact between individuals. For the duration of phases 3 and 4, the Director will support the teachers in classrooms and assist with the snack procedures. The support staff member will be required to wash hands, use hand sanitizer, and change all PPE prior to switching rooms. Hand sanitizer will be provided in all areas of the school.
FACE COVERINGS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING
Per DCFS regulations, face masks must be worn by children and adults during arrival and dismissal times and while in common areas of the school building. Hobson’s Director and Teachers will be required to wear face masks at all times when working with children and when keeping a distance of at least 6 feet is not possible.
In alignment with DCFS regulations and guidelines, children will be encouraged and expected to practice social distancing and wear face masks and/or coverings during the school day. Hobson School will operate with the expectation that children will:
wear face masks and/or coverings, and
practice social distancing.
Children may bring their own clean cloth face mask and/or covering to Hobson each day. Hobson School will also provide disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) for children, parents and staff, when needed to ensure PPE is worn during the required times.
Per the DCFS guidelines, the School will encourage wearing face coverings for children age 2 and older who can safely and appropriately wear, remove, and tolerate masks. When children can be safely kept at least 6 feet away from others, then they do not need to be encouraged to wear a face covering. Face coverings are not to be worn while children are eating/drinking and strict and consistent physical distancing will be practiced during these activities. Face coverings need not be worn while engaging in active outdoor play as long as children are able to keep physical distance from others.
The School will also account for providing social distancing in our classroom arrangements and daily routines. However, the School recognizes that maintaining physical distance during play will not always be possible for the children, and encouraging face masks and/or coverings as a part of our daily routines will be an important measure to ensure children can play and interact freely. Hobson will use developmentally appropriate language to explain to children that wearing masks is a way to take care of others and take care of ourselves. We will use a sensitive approach to encouraging children to wear masks while indoors or in close proximity to one another outdoors. Additionally, the staff will take into account each child’s individual needs and make decisions and modifications, as appropriate, for each individual child. Hobson School will provide resources for families so parents and caregivers can help children understand why covering our faces is important at this time, and support children’s adjustment to wearing face masks and/or coverings.
To comply with the cleaning requirements, Hobson School will ensure the required cleaning solutions will be well stocked and available in all areas of the school. There will also be increased cleaning procedures throughout the day, between part-day sessions, and at the end of the day.
Children and staff will wash their hands before and after playground use.
Sanitizing practices will also be increased, especially for high-touch surfaces including, but not limited to: doorknobs, toilet flush handles and sink handles.
All areas, equipment and materials (indoors and outdoors) will be cleaned and disinfected between use by different groups, and at the end of each class session, and at the end of the day.
All soft and/or plush toys will be removed from the classrooms.
Use of shared waterplay, including pools, should be postponed at this time.
Sprinklers arepermissible as long as children practice social distancing.
Any sharing of indoor and outdoor materials between groups will be minimized.
BUILDING AND FACILITY ACCESS
Hobson School will continue to limit building access. During phases 3 and 4, no on-site tours will be provided and no field trips will be scheduled. During these phases...
parent/guardian participation will not be allowed.
Visitors will not be permitted into the classrooms unless necessary for the health, safety and education of children and will always be masked while inside the facility, unless they have medical conditions or disabilities that prevent use of a face covering.
Visitor’s temperature should be taken before entering the facility.
Building access after hours will be limited to authorized staff, board and cooperative members only; when the building is accessed, there will be a strict sign-in policy for all off-hours visitors.
Signage regarding building access restrictions will be posted at all entrances.
DAILY HEALTH CHECKS
Daily Health Screenings will be conducted for all children, parents, guardians and visitors entering Hobson School. An area outdoors or in the immediate entryway of the facility will be designated for screening, and any indoor screening areas will be separated from the program facility by walls or physical barriers. Any outdoor screening areas will be sufficiently sheltered to allow utilization during inclement weather. Social distancing or physical barriers will be used to eliminate or minimize exposure risk during screening.
Hobson staff will utilize a non-contact thermometer to take the temperature of caregivers and children upon arrival, using the barrier /partition control and personal protective equipment (PPE) methods. Staff will not have physical contact with the student or guardian, and per DCFS guidelines, staff will not need to change gloves before the next check.
Temperature checks will be conducted and recorded for each child upon arrival. Temperature checks will be conducted and recorded for each parent, legal guardian, or authorized person upon arrival for drop-off and/or pick-up if they are entering the School. Staff will ask the parent/guardian to confirm that the child does not have fever, shortness of breath or cough; sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea and make a visual inspection of the child for signs of illness which could include flushed cheeks, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), fatigue, or extreme fussiness.
Staff will take their temperatures before entering the facility at the beginning of their reported work period and will maintain records for monitoring. Staff will be rechecked for fever during their work period if they begin to feel ill or experience any sign of respiratory illness.
All staff, children, parents/guardians and visitors with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher should not be permitted to enter the facility. Providers should encourage those with symptoms or a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to see a health care provider for evaluation. The School will keep logs as documentation that temperature checks were completed. Exterior signage will be provided to clearly outline entrance and drop-off/pick-up procedures.
ISOLATION AND DISCHARGE OF SICK CHILDREN AND STAFF Please refer to The Illinois Department of Public Health issued Public Health Interim Guidance for Pre-K-12 Schools and Day Care Programs for Addressing COVID-19.
Any child or staff member suspected of having COVID-19 or diagnosed with COVID-19 will be excluded from Hobson School pursuant to existing licensing standards regarding communicable disease, 89 Ill. Adm. Code 406, 407, and 408.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever (temperature greater than 100.4F/37C), chills, sore throat, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headache, vomiting and diarrhea. If a child or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, he or she is not to return to Hobson School until ALL three of the following are met:
Individual is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 72 hours.
Individual’s symptoms, including cough, have improved.
It has been at least 10 days since the onset of the individual’s illness.
If the child or staff member has symptoms of COVID-19 and it is subsequently determined by a medical provider that the individual likely does not have a COVID-19 infection, the child or staff member can return to day care if the following is met:
No fever for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medications (fever is temperature greater than 100.4F/37C)
Negative test for COVID-19 or;
A note from a medical provider documenting no clinical suspicion of COVID-19 infection.
If a child becomes symptomatic during class time, the Director or a staff member will call the child’s family and the child will remain in the office (and isolated from other children and teaching staff) until they are picked up by their caregiver or one of the emergency contacts listed for the child.
If a staff member becomes symptomatic while teaching they will cease their teaching duties immediately and isolate until they can leave Hobson School.
COVID-19 EXPOSURE POLICY OF COMMUNICATION
The CDC recommends that any child or staff with close contact (within 6 feet for greater than 15 minutes) to a person suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19 be excluded from the facility for 14 days and monitored for symptoms. If symptoms develop, they are encouraged to be evaluated and tested for COVID-19. If this occurs at Hobson School, the Director will consult the appropriate health organizations and DCFS, as well as share necessary important information with parents, guardians and staff, via email and/or telephone, in the event a staff member or child in attendance tests positive for COVID-19.
Per DCFS, families are expected to immediately notify Hobson School if someone in their home tests positive or if the child has been in close contact (within 6 feet for greater than 15 minutes) with a positive case.
If there is a staff member, child, or parent who tests positive for COVID-19 Hobson School staff will call IDPH at 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV and DCFS to report it. Hobson staff will also call DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) to inform them as DCHD will help to determine any additional steps that may need to be taken.
Hobson School will provide sufficient information to DCFS, IDPH, and the DuPage County Health Department and details that include but are not limited to the following: last day the individual was in the center, how many classrooms and children the individual had contact with, the date the notification of the positive test was received, the day that notification to the facility’s families (following HIPAA guidelines) that information for a positive case was sent, and the cleaning and disinfecting procedures that have been taken at the facility.