Welcome Busy Bees and parents. For those of you who don’t know, I am Tarsha Burns, director of Busy Bees DC, music and arts playgroup. We are here today to celebrate the start our Fall Camp. I am so grateful to you all for coming out to our social distancing ice cream social. I would also like to give a special shoutout to Capitol Hill Arts Center for hosting us today.
Thank you all for practicing social distancing during this unique gathering. Although times have drastically changed, our core values have not. We are still here to serve the Capitol Hill community. We are still here creating safe spaces for children to learn by play. We are still here emphasizing the importance of music and the arts.
While our values remain the same, the staff and I recognize how vital it is that we adapt with the times to keep your children safe during this pandemic. Here at Busy Bees, we look at learning like building a house. Every house needs a strong foundation and walls that hold it up. Cleanliness and safety serve as the foundation for how we operate.
The childcare industry has certain standards of cleanliness that it must uphold to maintain safe facilities. Existing rules on cleanliness and safety have served children and their families well during this pandemic.
Our children need to remain engaged and allowed to learn through play. This is why we are working so hard to ensure Busy Bees can be that environment for them-SAFELY. Evidence shows that children learn through play and this does not cease in the face of a pandemic.
For example, In her TedX Talk talk, Professor Doris Fromberg, Director of Early Childhood Teacher Education at Hofstra University, explains why play is such an important part of the learning process for children. She says that
“We need to consider that young children learn in quite different ways [than adults]. They learn by comparing physical experiences, by interactions with other people and their own feelings. And they learn an enormous amount through their imagination…. Play is what pulls together the logical and creative parts of the brain.”
We at Busy Bees DC are optimistic and confident about our ability to remain a safe space for children to learn by play while also keeping the transmission rates low and avoid the spread of the virus. Many safe practices were already implemented. However, we have increased the number of times we sanitize from 2–3 times a day, to once after every lesson or play time.
In addition to increasing the number of times we sanitize a day, we have hired a professional cleaning service to do a deep cleaning every week. Our staff are required to get Covid testing every other week and track symptoms in our system every day. We have also implemented a mask mandate and we keep an ample supply of k-95 masks for staff or students in need.
Pre pandemic, our lessons included anywhere from 10–20 students per age group. The students would be grouped together in one setting. We have now adopted social distancing practices with our students which include group lessons with only 5–7 students per group and ample space to work on projects. Before each lesson, the instructors will have a 5-minute refresher on the importance of social distancing and keeping the workspaces clean.
Not only will we have students practice social distancing, but as part of our STEAM program, students in the appropriate age groups will take on a science project about how germs spread and the best ways to limit the spread. We believe that it is of vital importance to help our children work through the pandemic and understand how to maintain a level of safety. We believe that the best way to do this is through engaging them in what is going on in a way that they can understand.
Luckily, Ms. Downey’s husband works for the CDC and has been very helpful in providing us updated information on safety practices. We are learning directly from the source!
We want you to know that as childcare providers we are doing everything we can to protect your children while engaging them as much as possible. However, we need assistance from you as parents on the back end.
According to a study by The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is evidence that while childcare may pose negligible threat to community transmission, communities may pose a considerable threat to childcare when background transmission rates are high.
Hence why we need your help. I urge you all to use this time to overly educate your little bees on practices that will help keep them safe which in turn helps keep our facilities safe. To help you do this, we have created some fun ways to educate your children at home. Here are some suggestions:
1. Create a fun chart about steps to washing your hands and set it up by the restroom
2. Have fun smelling and/or looking hand sanitizer available around the house
3. Read children’s books that help teach about germs. A personal favorite is Wash Your Hands! By Tony Ross is available for purchase next to the ice cream cart.
4. Buy some cloth and make your own silly masks with cool patterns
It is extremely important that our children stay engaged. These practices are educational and fun for you AND them.
We intend to keep building our house on the solid foundation of cleanliness and safety. We hope that you will join us in the process and work with us to ensure Fall Camp runs safely and smoothly.
I would like you all take a moment to check out our informational pamphlets and posters containing our new Covid-19 procedures that are placed around the courtyard. The pamphlets come with stickers and complimentary hand sanitizer!
I want to thank you all again for coming out and joining us today and doing your part to flatten the curve. If anyone has any questions for me, please feel free to come talk to me by the ice cream stand!