Finding the right balance between children´s needs for a safe and comforting setting and at the same time impeding the spread of corona virus by following stringent hygiene regulations is a sensitive balancing act in Kindergarten.

For young children and educators working in a kindergarten setting, physical contact cannot generally be avoided. Young children seek the physical nearness of caregivers for support, safety and comfort. Playing in close proximity to peers is also part of the social constant that children need to grow and develop.

In kindergarten, the most effective measure in impeding the spread of the virus is to limit the number of people who have access to one another throughout the day. At LIK, our mandate is to create smaller groups, avoid the intermingling and mixing of groups throughout the day, and to limit and regulate shared spaces such as the outdoor play areas.

To this end, we at LIK have created 10 emergency care groups, four in Nursery and six in Early Years. Within each of these groups, a maximum of 10 children will be cared for by a constant set of 3-4 rotating educators.  Each group will form an “island” where the children and educators interact with one another only, and avoid mixing with other groups and educators during the day.

In Nursery and in EY1, the pods were consolidated. For every two neighbouring groups, one was created for up to 10 children who will have exclusive use of both rooms, one bathroom, one cloakroom and one sleeping room. In EY2 and EY3, two groups for each level were formed.

Moving forward, when a child is newly registered for emergency care, we will first look to see if there is capacity with their direct classmates. Should that group have reached full capacity, we will assign them to the other less full group within their level.

The children at LIK in emergency care are able to benefit not only from many of the usual LIK quality educational activities, but now also from reduced group sizes and in many cases a 1:5 educator to child ratio.

To ensure maximum hygiene and hinder infection chains from forming, LIK asks that only one parent or guardian bring their child to Kindergarten, that they wear a mask and that they observe the 1,5m distance to others while in the building. On entering LIK parents are also asked to sanitize their hands at the sanitizer station in the entrance hall, while keeping the bottle out of childrens’ reach.

This space can safely accommodate two families. Before entering this area parents should assess if there is space. If there are already two families in this area, parents are asked to wait.

EY children should be supervised in washing their hands in their group’s bathroom before entering their room, while Nursery children will wash their hands with their educators in their rooms.

Stairwell use has also been regulated. The green stairwell should be used for going up, the red stairwell for coming down. This will avoid contact among families at peak times.

It is important that educators approach the strict distancing and hygiene rules that apply to adults, in a sensitive manner with young children.

For children under three, wearing masks is viewed critically. For children between the ages of three and six, there is much discussion about the correct policies to follow. At LIK, do not mandate the wearing of masks for our children. Should you wish for your child to wear a mask, please speak with the educator team. They can make sure that the theme is addressed so that all children feel comfortable. LIK colleagues, are likewise not mandated to wear masks when working with the children in their designated groups (i.e. “islands”). Colleagues who choose to wear masks are of course able to do so. This will then be discussed with the children, so that everyone is able to express their feelings and to feel comfortable.

Should there come a time, when Saxony clearly mandates the wearing of masks by children and/or educators in Kindergarten, we will of course comply.

To facilitate outdoor play, a schedule has been made at LIK so that each group is able to play outside during the day without coming into contact with other groups.

Educators have access to disinfectant and disposable towels for use in the group rooms in every bathroom. They disinfect children´s tables each day in the morning, before meal times, after meal times and again at the end of the day. This is in line with state regulations, mandating a balanced approach to disinfecting. LIK uses disinfectants that are approved for children´s rooms. The disinfectants are stored out of reach of the children at all times.

Storyteller to the left, Pixies to the right

Lunch is prepared for the groups on carts that are delivered to the groups at the regular lunch times. Children eat in their group rooms.

Beyond these actions, it remains important to us to provide a safe, secure and comforting environment for the children. We will discuss and even visualize, in an age-appropriate manner, the rules that the grown-ups are following and hear their feelings and thoughts on this. We will remain, however, available for the children who are in need of physical nearness for their own development, growth and sense of well-being. As is inherent in the nature of our profession. We will meet the children where they are, all the while helping them to better understand the new rules for living in the world today

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