As the summer begins to wrap up and students start contemplating a return to school, much has changed.
One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is Kiddie Academy’s dedication to the health and safety of its children and families. During the coronavirus quarantine, both Kiddie Academy locations in Longwood-Lake Mary and Sanford-Heathrow remained open to serve their students. And it’s a good thing, too – many of their parents are essential workers.
“We’ve been open the whole time,” says owner Ted Cockram. “Working parents, especially our frontline workers, need peace of mind, and they need a place for their children.”
Continuing to send children to school during a pandemic sounds scary, but sustaining a healthy environment is nothing new to Kiddie Academy.
“Maintaining a clean and sanitized academy has always been a top priority for us,” says Ted. “Supplementing with additional precautions came easy since we already take many steps to disinfect daily.”
Even as the coronavirus tightened its grip on our community, Kiddie Academy remained on the forefront of health and safety.
“Before they even became standard, we implemented a lot of the COVID-19 health and safety procedures,” says co-owner Hilda Cockram.
That included limiting visitors in the classrooms and checking temperatures as students entered the building – long before the practices were required. All Kiddie Academy employees wore masks, and the centers made changes to how the children interact, focusing on smaller group play.
Both Kiddie Academy schools have a Zono machine, a hospital-grade sanitizer to clean everything from soft toys and books to dress-up clothes, and staff members have increased the frequency of sanitization.
“We want to reassure people that we’re taking the right steps to take care of the kids and the staff,” says Hilda.
Children crave a routine when things seem off-kilter, and the team at Kiddie Academy aimed to provide normalcy, whether it be at the facility or through virtual means. For those families who chose to quarantine at home, the Kiddie Academy staff created a weekly digital at-home curriculum. Teachers also posted daily Facebook videos of themselves reading books, conducting virtual circle time, and singing songs. They also offered how-to videos to create obstacle courses, marble mazes, virtual circle time, dances, and experiments to do at home.
“Even while they were at home, we wanted to offer families a way to stay connected and give them an opportunity to do some of the learning that we were working on here,” Hilda says.
In July, the Sanford-Heathrow location will celebrate its one-year anniversary, and both centers are currently open and accepting new families for the fall.
“This is a safe place to be, and we want to make sure parents know that,” says Ted. “And our families have been so appreciative that they have a place for their kids to go.”