Horizon Education Centers sent out a survey recently to its families to better understand their concerns regarding COVID-19. Part of the survey included a section for questions families have about when the centers reopen. We have put these questions together to help our families make this process easier. The questions and answers are below.
What precautions will you be taking to make sure children are safe?
We will be following state and CDC guidelines to ensure children and staff are kept safe and healthy during this uncertain time with COVID-19. This will include daily health screenings for all children and staff within the buildings, use of PPE, heightened hand-washing policies, and increased building sanitation throughout the day and nightly. If children are showing a sign of an illness during the in-car screening process, they will not be allowed to enter the center. Soft material that cannot be sanitized will be removed from all classrooms. Large group activities will be canceled, also children will stay with their teacher throughout the day, limiting contact with other staff. Playground spaces will be scheduled for classroom time and sanitized between group use.
What sanitation methods will be used?
Child care centers are highly regulated businesses. Basic licensing requires regular sanitation and hygiene practices. Teachers and staff are required 6 hours of initial Communicable Disease Prevention Training. Because of these practices in prior virus breakouts (like the Swine Flu and the other influenzas) some child care centers stayed open at regular operating capacities. The CDC recommendations will only make the centers safer.
Will classroom sizes be limited? How will you select who attends?
We are anticipating classroom sizes to be limited and regulated by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Barring any state guidance, we will be providing child care slots on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will be given to families that need full-time care.
Will children have to wear masks within the centers?
We will comply with state and CDC guidelines when Horizon is allowed to reopen. If masks are not required, children over the age of 2 may wear masks provided by parents as requested.
How will you sanitize the classrooms?
All classroom hard surfaces will be sanitized with a bleach solution as prescribed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Other surfaces will be cleaned with commercial disinfectant. Playgrounds and outdoor equipment will be sanitized between group usage.
How will drop-off and pick-up procedures change?
A staff member wearing PPE will greet you and your child in your car. A health screening will take place with questions and a temperature check. This will be conducted before your child is allowed to leave the car. If a child is showing any signs of being ill, they will not be permitted to leave the car. The child will be escorted into the building by a staff member and will proceed to a hand-washing station. The staff member will then escort your child to their classroom. Parents will not be permitted into the building unless there is an emergency. Pick-up procedures are yet to be determined.
Will classes practice social distancing?
As best as possible. Large group activities will be canceled and children will stay with their teacher throughout the day and have limited contact with other staff.
Will staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?
As required by state and CDC guidelines.
Will hand sanitizer be available when entering all buildings?
Yes, we currently have sanitizer dispensers in the main hallway by the center's entrance.
How do we plan on ensuring e-learning will take place since schools are closed?
We are currently working on increasing the number of connected devices at all of our centers.
Will summer camp take place? What will the cost be?
We hope that the centers will be allowed to open as soon as possible and Summer Camp will begin on June 8. However, all field trips and swimming activities will be canceled for this summer. There will be no activity fees charged. The summer tuition rate will remain the same. Other large group activities will be canceled due to social distancing guidelines set by the State of Ohio.
What will happen to the graduation ceremonies for preschoolers?
All preschool graduations will be canceled. Please check with your center director for alternative activities. Kindergarten Bootcamp for children starting kindergarten in the fall will be conducted over the summer months. Please contact your center for details.
What are you doing to keep classes and activities as normal as possible?
We will make every effort to provide normal programming. We will be limiting shared space activities; we will plan large motor activities within the classroom, like yoga and games like Simon Says. Playground space will be scheduled for each classroom so that we can sanitize between groups.
Will you live stream classrooms within your center?
No, Horizon does not use live streaming within our centers.
Attendance and Financial
Will you be opening for just essential working families?
We are currently not open, and we anticipate that when the governor gives the go-ahead to open child care centers, the essential worker definition will be modified or deleted.
If we don’t return when the centers open, will our spot be filled?
Yes. You must make arrangements to pay ahead of time for your slot to be held. We anticipate opening with a limited number of slots because of social distancing. Priority will be given to families that need full-time care.
Will parents be notified if they can’t return due to small class sizes?
Yes, a notification will be sent to all families. Our plan is to bring in our center directors two weeks before we open. One of the first jobs will be to call families and see who needs care. There will also be messages on Horizon’s Facebook and in the biweekly update sent by the executive director on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
When will we know if we have been approved for JFS vouchers?
You will be notified by the county office of Job and Family Services. If you need additional assistance, please contact your center director.
How does the process of transferring from the infant to toddler program work?
Horizon programs are by age group. Toddler programs start at 18 months old. Once your child turns 18 months old, a transition plan will be developed for your child based on their developmental needs and classroom availability.
Will children only be able to attend twice a week? Will we lose our vouchers if we don’t attend full-time?
To be considered full-time status, your child must attend a minimum of 25 hours per week if you receive publicly funded child care (vouchers). Priority for limited slots will be given to full-time families.
Will essential workers have first priority on classroom spots?
Yes, if required by Governor Mike DeWine. Otherwise, priority will be given to families that need full-time care.
Will we have to re-register again to come back to the centers?
If you were currently enrolled before the pandemic closure, your status with Horizon is "Suspended." When you return, you will not need to re-register. However, there is a separate registration requirement for those families with school-aged children who would like to enroll in the summer camp program. Summer camp enrollment forms may be found here.
Will I lose my vouchers if I don’t send my child back when you reopen?
Voucher decisions are made by the ODJFS. Please contact your caseworker to discuss your specific situation.
If I don't enroll right away when the centers reopen, do I lose my discounts?
No, you will not forfeit your discount. However, if the program that you are entering is different from the one that you left, your rates will vary and you would need a new enrollment contract.
What will be your part-time policies?
Horizon's part-time enrollment policy will not change. Horizon prefers to have full time slots.
How will you issue overpayments left in family accounts?
You have the option to either request a refund on your balance or the balance will be applied on your account for future services. If we do not get your request for a refund, we will assume that you will want the balance applied to your account.
Will you separate children of families that are essential workers from other children?
No. All children will be divided by age group.
For a printable version of these questions and answers, click here.