Children’s Learning Center Reopening Plan

Here at Helen Keller Services’ Children’s Learning Center the health and safety of our children and adults in our school is paramount. Health and safety considerations always come first in every decision made and every action taken by our school. We serve special education preschool children who are visually impaired, multiply disabled / medically fragile and who may be on the autistic spectrum. Our mission is to give them the academic, social and therapeutic supports to prepare them to achieve their highest potential when they leave our program and enter the school age environment.

During this period of COVID-19 Pandemic, we have embraced the concept of “Parental Choice”. Instruction is offered in-person, remotely, or through some combination of the two. We began Remote Learning on September 8th for all of our students and opened to “In Person Learning” at our school at 180 Livingston Street on September 21st. We continue to offer Remote Learning for any parent who wishes their child to continue with this mode of instruction.

Our classrooms are approximately 500 square feet and are approved by the New York State Department of Education, (NYSED) to have eight students, one certified Special Education Teacher and two Assistant Teachers in each classroom. Each classroom has a children’s bathroom and two sinks along with hand sanitizer dispenser. Our school has a full time Registered Nurse, Social Worker and School Principal. Our RN is dedicated to be the COVID-19 resource person who is readily available to the entire school community during school hours. The School Principal is our designated COVID-19 safety coordinator whose responsibilities include continuous compliance with all aspects of the school’s reopening plan.

To assure that our school is a safe and healthy environment, we have adopted the following measures:

• Health Checks;

• Healthy Hygiene Practices;

• Social Distancing;

• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Cloth Face Coverings;

• Management of Ill Persons; and

• Cleaning and Disinfection

• Provision of Related Services

• Communication

• Nutrition

• Transportation

• Social / Emotional Well-Being

• Technology and Connectivity

• Teaching and Learning

Health Checks

Every staff member and visitor to our school will go through a screening process that includes a temperature check using a non-contact thermometer and a Health Screening questionnaire.  

The screening questionnaire determines whether the individual has:

• Knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19.

• Tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in the past 14 days

• Has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19, including a temperature of greater than 100 degrees in the past 14 days

• Has traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.

This is done on a daily basis. The School Administrative Assistant will review each screening questionnaire before the individual is allowed entry to the school. Any adult who has a temperature reading of 100 degrees or more will be refused entrance into the building and advised to see their personal physician.

If an employee is symptomatic upon arrival at work or becomes sick with COVID-19 symptoms while at the workplace, absent close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19, the employee must be separated and sent home immediately and may return to work upon completing at least 10 days of isolation from the onset of symptoms OR upon receipt of a negative COVID-19 test result.

If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of whether the employee is symptomatic or asymptomatic, the employee may return to work upon completing at least 10 days of isolation from the onset of symptoms or 10 days of isolation after the first positive test if they remain asymptomatic. They also must test negative for COVID-19.

Any staff member who has a temperature of 100 degrees or more will need a medical clearance from their physician in order to return to work.

Health Hygiene Practices

There is appropriate signage to instruct staff and students in correct hand and respiratory hygiene in each classroom, bathrooms and common areas.   Each staff member will completely wash their hands following the Department of Health and CDC guidelines when working with one student to the next.  Hand sanitizer dispensers are in located in each classroom and every therapy area, as well as in the hallways and administrative areas.

Staff will instruct, where applicable, the students on proper hand washing, as well as the application of hand sanitizer.  This will be part of the school curriculum and will be implemented on a daily basis.  Staff will supervise the students during hand washing.

Social Distancing

Hallways are marked with directional arrows to maximize distancing and to assure that face to face contact is minimized. All persons in school buildings keep social distance of at least 6 feet whenever possible. Personal distancing between adults will be exercised in hallways and in common areas. Students that can tolerate wearing face masks will be given several mask breaks throughout the day. School safety drills with modifications ensuring social distancing between persons will be conducted on a monthly basis. Each classroom is approximately 500 square feet and there are no more than 9 children in each class. Therapy sessions are conducted in individual rooms where social distancing is enhanced.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE and Cloth Face Coverings)

Anyone entering the school is required to wear a surgical face mask that is available at the reception area. Any individual refusing to wear a face mask will be denied entry into the facility unless they have medical documentation stating that they cannot wear a mask. At the very least, staff is required to wear a surgical face mask, and are encouraged to done all other PPEs. There is a large supply of face masks, gloves, goggles, N95 masks, surgical aprons and face shields are available. These will be replenished on a daily basis and the school’s Administrative Assistant will monitor the supply and order additional PPEs as needed. There are also hand sanitizer and wipes in all common areas including each classroom and all therapy areas. Every effort will be taken to have the students wear “children’s” face masks when the child can tolerate it.

Management of Ill Persons

Since most of our children arrive to school by bus, the School Principal or his designee will conduct a temperature check of each child as he / she disembarks from the bus.  Any child that has a fever of 100 degrees or more will be taken directly to a dedicated isolation room where the School Nurse will examine the child for signs and symptoms.  The parents / guardians will be called immediately to come and pick their child up for follow up with their healthcare provider.  

Staff is instructed by the School Nurse to observe for signs of illness in students and other staff members.  Throughout the day, any child who develops a fever of 100 degrees or shows signs and symptoms will be examined by the School Nurse.  The child will then be quarantined in our dedicated isolation room and be picked up by their parent / guardian for follow up with their healthcare provider. We have designated 2 rooms for school health service personnel / School Nurse. One room is for healthy students to obtain medications and nursing treatments. The second room is for isolating ill persons. Disposable equipment and supplies is used in the health services, (nurse’s station) as much as practicable.

The school will immediately notify the state and local Departments of Health upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 test results by a staff member or child.  The School Principal or his / her designate will monitor the site’s safety to ensure continuous compliance with all aspects of the site safety plan.

Cleaning and Disinfection

The hallways and common areas of the school are cleaned and disinfected 3 times during the day by the School Custodian. The custodial staff has been trained on the proper CDC and Department of Health cleaning and sanitizing guidance. Approved CDC disinfectants and sanitizers are used by the entire staff.

Each classroom and therapy area will be cleaned and disinfected after each activity and again at the end of the day. Each child will have their own toy bin for toys that are used specifically by them. All toys are cleaned and disinfected at the end of every day. Every staff member will inspect their area and ensure they have sufficient supplies each day (e.g., face covering, tissues, hand hygiene supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.).

Related Services

For the school year 2020-21, the occupational, physical, and speech therapists at HKSB-CLC will provide services and monitor progress based on the recommendations and annual goals from each student's IEP. However, due to current as well as evolving health and safety requirements,

• The location of services will be either in-person at the preschool, remote by video conference, or both based on the preschool's programming schedule.

• Therapists will meet the recommended frequency of services through these methods as well as by...

  • collaborating with teachers and other providers.
  • recommending therapeutic strategies for in-person use in the classroom.
  • consulting with parents/guardians by video conferences and/or phone meetings.
  • suggesting therapeutic activities by phone conversations and/or information sent by email and/or communication book for carry-over at home with required feedback based on parent/guardian's experiences and student's progress so therapists can modify or make changes.

• The duration of sessions will be flexible to allow for hand hygiene of student and therapist at the beginning and end of a session as well as for cleaning and disinfection of therapeutic equipment and contacted surfaces between each session.

• Therapists will follow the preschool's mandatory requirements for

  • hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • cleaning and disinfection.
  • physical distancing of either social distancing of 6-feet, physical barriers, or face masks/coverings.
  • personal protective equipment with proper wear and care of masks/face coverings, gloves, goggles/face shields, and gowns.

Communication

Regular and frequent communication between our school, families, and the wider community has always been an essential element of our schools ability to promote effective family and community engagement.  Parent and staff trainings will be held both “in person” and remotely to both the staff and the families.

To this end, the above areas are communicated to the parents/guardians and staff on a regular basis with trainings occurring on a monthly basis.  Every family and staff member is given a copy of our Reopening Plan and in-service trainings are conducted.  Translations will be made available for non-English speaking individuals.  Parents will receive weekly updates via email, phone and / or texts from our teaching, therapeutic, medical staff as well as from our Social Worker.  This serves two purposes; one is to keep the parents updated on the progress and health / safety of their child, and to keep the teaching and therapy staff apprised of any and all concerns the parents may have.  Keeping open lines of communication is vital to our student academic and therapeutic success.  This is our top priority. 

Nutrition

The Children’s Learning Center does not prepare food on site. The families of our students send in snacks and lunch from home. The students are only served the food that was prepared at home. The students eat all meals in the classroom with the classroom staff members sitting with them. It is our strict policy for children will be no food sharing.

Both staff and students wash / disinfect their hands prior to snack and lunch time. As an extra precaution, the staff wears gloves during snack and lunch time.

Transportation

Transportation (school bus) is provided for preschool students with disabilities enrolled in our 4410 / CPSE program by the NYC Department of Education, Office of Pupil Transportation. 1st Steps Transportation is the contracted bus company. The Children’s Learning Center staff is involved when students embark and disembark the school bus.

For students whose parents bring them to school, the parent brings the student into the front vestibule area where he / she is checked for fever. A staff member greets the student and brings him / her to their classroom where they wash their hands.

Social Emotional Well-Being

In planning our reopening in September, (and ongoing), the Children’s Learning Center has taken into consideration the needs of the students, families and staff that must be addressed during the transition back to school. We recognize that our families and staff member will return with apprehension and anxiety. Our full time Social Worker run regularly scheduled Parent Support Meetings via ZOOM and is always there to discuss issues with the staff. We have weekly team meetings to discuss any supports our families and students may need as well as our staff. Our parents are encouraged to call our Social Worker and School Nurse at any time during school hours to discuss their concerns.

In addition, Helen Keller Services for the Blind is happy to provide its staff members with a work-life balance employee assistance program (EAP). Our work-life balance EAP is here to help our staff members balance the demands of work with those of their personal life. It provides unlimited telephone consultations with master’s level consultants, web-based tools and online information. Some of the areas that are commonly addressed are:

• Coping with stress, anxiety and depression;

• Organization tips and prioritization ideas;

• Caring for elderly relative or finding senior assistance;

• Improving your health or controlling a chronic condition.

We understand that our staff must have systems of support including meaningful peer relationships, opportunities to connect and resources. Without these supports in place, staff may not have their optimal capacity to support the needs of our students and families.

Technology and Connectivity

Access to technology is essential for a successful implementation of this reopening plan. Helen Keller Services will do all within our means to ensure equitable access for students and staff. We have worked with families to identify their technology needs and where appropriate, have loaned iPads to them. Every classroom has an iPad and a newly purchased laptop computer, each of our Related Services staff also has new laptop computers for Telehealth sessions. These are used to work with the remote students as well as the “in-person” learning students. All remote learning is conducted using Microsoft Teams software platform.

Teaching and Learning

The Children’s Learning Center has developed a continuity of learning plan for the 2020 – 2021 school year. Our plan consists of 3 models for learning; all in-person, hybrid, or all remote instruction. In the event of school closure, our staff is prepared to change from all in-person and hybrid models to all remote learning.

The foundation for instruction is based on the NYC Division of Early Childhood Education series of interdisciplinary Units of Study for Pre-K for All. This research based resource was created in collaboration with researchers and supports student learning in all domains using developmentally appropriate practice.

The Division of Early Childhood Education has developed a series of interdisciplinary Units of Study for Pre-K for All. This research based resource was created in collaboration with researchers and supports student learning in all domains using developmentally appropriate practice.

• There are 10 Units total, each designed to last about a month.

• This scope and sequence shows a progression of interdisciplinary learning throughout the year in three sections.

• The development of inquiry and critical thinking is a consistent thread throughout all Units.

• Units provide opportunities for content exploration and skill-building that are aligned with the NYCDOE Kindergarten Social Studies and Science Scope and Sequence.

• Units assist teaching teams in nurturing inquiry, language and problem solving skills through their organization of the classroom environment, interactions with students, use of purposeful play, incorporation of books, other texts, new vocabulary, and family engagement practices.

• Below is the sequence of the curriculum.

  • Unit 1: Welcome to Pre-K(Open external link)
  • Unit 2: My Five Senses(Open external link)
  • Unit 3: All About Us(Open external link)
  • Unit 4: Where We Live(Open external link)
  • Unit 5: Transportation(Open external link)
  • Unit 6: Light(Open external link)
  • Unit 7: Water(Open external link)
  • Unit 8: Plants(Open external link)
  • Unit 9: Babies(Open external link)
  • Unit 10: Transformation