It has been a full 5 weeks since we have been back in our center and back to loving our little people. There was so much anxiety around the thought of going back to school face to face and reopening the center due to covid, but we knew it was time. See for the students in our community many of their parents are frontline workers so for them there was no real option. Many of our kids explained the hardships of trying to navigate online classes alone and not having much help with homework because parents are working or are confused themselves on how to access the online classes and resources. My assistant and I along with the wonderful counselors and teachers at Brumby did the best we could to help the families we knew until we were cleared to return, but even with our best efforts so many kids were left with no help. So despite our anxiety about the virus we just had to do what we knew was best for our community and go back face to face. Parents were happy to know that not only will their children have a place to go after school but now they will have the support and partnership they once had to help their children thrive again.
We followed all CDC guidelines and got our center cleaned and ready for learning and play. Our prep included getting new cleaning products with a new cleaning routine, sanitizer stations, creating personal work stations for each student, checking temps at the door, and ensuring all students wear a mask. We went from 6 students to a table to just 2 per table which meant we were unable to accept all kids into the program. With the guidelines being so strict to prevent exposure we went from 40 kids last year to now just 25 in order to properly keep kids 6ft apart. It’s not all we hoped for but we are so thankful for what we are able to do for now.
Now that our students are back we have had to do our learning and play differently to remain safe. We no longer do group activities and games as we once did but have learned new ways to play old games. It has actually been really fun. Our kids love games like Simon says, freeze dance, and all types of guessing games. Games like this allow us to have fun together but stay apart. We still play outside but try to have more organized play in order to ensure less touching. Instead of tagging with our hands we use pool noodles and instead of football we now race each other. Help with homework looks a bit different as well. Where we used to sit as a group and do learning together we now have to encourage more independent work, which is healthy but not always fun. We used to enjoy letting the students partner up for reading but now they have to have their own books and read allowed to the group or alone when not doing homework time. I also get to read more to the group since we can’t partner up as much, and you know I love that.
We are so thankful that we are also still able to do our themed days. Our kids enjoy yoga on mediation Mondays, Trivia Tuesdays, we take a break on Wednesday but encourage students to catch up on school work and get writing in for practice, circle time for therapy Thursday (6ft apart), and Fun Friday we watch movies, eat special treats and play more fun games . Life at ASP looks a bit different these days but is still so much fun.
I miss hugging my students and there are times where I have to remind myself that I can’t high five so we air-five but I am so thankful we just get to be together. I’m thankful we have learned to navigate life during a pandemic. I’m thankful that I get to continue to bridge this gap for the families in our community.