COVID-19 & GCS
Reimagining What We Do
Groton Community School has implemented new protocols and strategies to keep our children, families and staff healthy and safe, while still offering fun and engaging educational experiences for young children. Everything we do has required a twist or a new take during COVID-19 times, but we have found that the essence of Groton Community School remains the same! All that we learned as educators while operating remotely has broadened our horizons beyond the classroom, and now helps us to stay connected with families and our community while operating on site once again!
After the mandated spring 2020 closure, we reopened our door on June 29, 2020 for a small, Summer Program, with a myriad of health and safety protocols in place. At first the task seemed daunting – children in masks?! – but we found while challenging, all the health and safety requirements were not only possible but doable. This positive experience gave us confidence to welcome back a large number of children and families for the 2020-2021 school year, and it has been a tremendous success! We are now enrolling for the 2021-2022 school year and anticipate that many of the same state COVID-19 protocols will be in place.
Families interested in possible enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year, or our 2021 Summer Program, are invited to Schedule a Tour to visit the school remotely. After touring, a family may then choose to enter their child(ren) in our Enrollment Book (wait list) to be contacted for future openings.
Health and Safety
Groton Community School works diligently to adhere to all state and licensing requirements for COVID-19, and works closely with the local Board of Health, to provide a healthy and safe environment at our school. In some cases, our GCS requirements exceed those of the state, as we take protecting our children, families, and staff very seriously. We ask that families do the same, being aware and following all state COVID-19 health and safety recommendations outside of school, and we provide information on our Family Login page with all important information families should know.
Parents and staff are required to complete a convenient, online Daily Screening Form each day to attest to the health and lack of close contact with COVID-19, for both themselves and their households. When we check in children each day, a visual scan is then performed to ensure everyone that enters the program has completed the daily screening and appears healthy.
Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers and pumps are available throughout the building, in addition to adult and child sinks in every classroom. We ask children and adults entering the building to please sanitize their hands when entering, and have procedures in place throughout the day for handwashing.
Staff are required to wear masks at all times in their work with children, unless outdoors and at least 6 feet in distance from others. We ask that children wear masks as well, with “mask breaks” throughout the day, for eating and sleeping, outdoors while distanced, and indoors if distanced from others. While we first wondered if this would work with young children, it has been a non-issue. A gentle reminder is all that is needed if a child forgets to put their mask on.
We prefer to use the phrase “physical distancing,” instead of “social distancing,” as we are still being social together! Children and staff still interact with one another, engage in great conversations, and share in activities together, just from a distance. Teaching strategies, gentle guidance and structuring the environment accomplishes physical distancing. We have redesigned environments with visual cues for children, individual trays and bins, and also use plexiglass dividers at tables.
We are not allowed to mix groups of children together during COVID-19, and the number of children within each classroom is reduced. Fewer children in each classroom, based on the square footage, benefits physical distancing.
CLEANING & DISINFECTING
As a children’s center, cleaning and disinfecting is something that we naturally do, however we have increased our efforts, cleaning and disinfecting everything in classrooms each day at a minimum. If a classroom has one group in the morning, and another in the afternoon, everything is cleaned and disinfected between groups of children. Cleaning checklists are performed in classrooms and school-wide to ensure every area is done on a daily basis.
Children have their own individual “art kits” (with crayons, markers, scissors, glue sticks, etc.) to minimize sharing of materials. Children also have their own individual sensory bins to touch and feel, mix, measure and pour a variety of similar materials with a partner, while not handling the exact same materials.
SNACKS AND MEALS
In the past, children’s families brought snacks on a rotating basis to share with their class in half-day programs. The school provided snacks for full-day children, but families were welcome to sign up to share snack with the class if they would like. Full-day children have always brought their own lunch from home.
At this time, we do not share family-style snacks as we had in the past pre-COVID. All children bring their own snacks and lunches from home to minimize food handling. We ask families to avoid peanut and nut products due to the prevalence of food allergies to these items.
FRESH AIR AND SUNSHINE
Our newly renovated and expanded school has a state-of-the-art HVAC system. Each classroom is equipped with an efficient air purifier that runs 24-7 as well.
While Groton Community School has always valued outdoor play each day, classes are encouraged to take the curriculum outdoors even moreso in COVID-19 times. Children have their own individual “discovery packs” with binoculars, art materials, clipboards, etc. for outdoor learning opportunities. Nature “hunts”, “storywalks” and other games and activities provide structured learning, as well as playground time outdoors.
To read more about COVID-19 protocols at GCS, you are invited to view our GCS Family Handbook 2021-2022 Addendum with FAQ regarding these health and safety measures.
UPDATE: JUNE 1, 2021
Please stay tuned for our Groton Community School updates regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Given the Governor’s recent annoucement to rescind restrictions on May 29th, and the subsequent communication from our licensing agency (MA Department of Early Education and Care), GCS will likewise be easing some of our COVID-19 restrictions, while retaining others. For example, the MA Travel Advisory is no longer in effect. We ask families (and staff) to please continue to be responsible monitoring possible symptoms and close contact, to be safe with their interactions within the community, and to please get vaccinated, as well.