Fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with the anxiety and stress will make you, your families and those around you stronger. Anxiety symptoms can include excessive worrying, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and difficulty concentrating.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations depending on their background, age or community. People who are high risk, considered essential employees or who have prior mental health conditions tend to respond to crisis stress more strongly.
Tips for coping with stress and anxiety
- Take a break from watching, reading or listening to news stories about COVID-19. Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting.
- Take care of your mental and physical health with meditation, healthy meals and exercise.
- Take time to engage in activities you enjoy.
- Talk to people you trust about your concerns and fears. Share the facts about COVID-19 to understand the risks. This can make an outbreak less stressful.
- Call your healthcare provider if your stress and anxiety gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
For parents and childcare providers
Children tend to react on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and childcare providers deal with COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.
Be sure to watch for changes in behavior in a child. Not all children respond to stress in the same way. Some things to look out for may include excessive crying, returning behaviors they have previously outgrown, “acting out”, difficulty with attention and concentration or avoiding activities they previously enjoyed.
Here are some ideas to help support children:
- Take time to talk about the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Answer questions and share facts about the outbreak in a way the child can understand.
- Reassure the child that they are safe and that it is okay to feel upset or scared.
- Limit exposure to news coverage, including social media as children could misinterpret what they hear.
- Keep up with a regular routine. If school is closed, set schedules for learning, relaxing and fun activities.
- Be a role model for your children. Eat well, exercise, take breaks and stay connected with friends and family.
During these times, you need to take care of your mental health. Make your mental health a priority and don’t let anxiety and stress consume you. Be sure to reach out to a trained professional if your or your child’s stress and anxiety consumes you. Remember that you are not alone and this will pass.
Parent and family communication has always been important in the Childcare and Early Education business, but now during these unprecedented times during the COVID-19 pandemic it has become even more essential that you keep the lines of communication open with your families.
Whether the communication be in regard to social interactions, virtual learning, community resources, reopening updates, etc. all of these are important as we navigate through this time together. We have put together a list of communication tools that can help you meet these new communication needs during these times with some suggested uses for each one.
Communication Tools Within the Smartcare System:
Email: Smartcare’s Messaging Feature
Smartcare’s built in messaging feature is great for sending email updates for a variety of reasons. These emails can be sent to all families and employees for center wide updates or filtered to include certain segments depending on the audience that you are targeting.
If you are continuing virtual classes and assignments, you can use email to explain how the virtual learning process will work. Email can also be used to communicate resources available in your community that may be useful or needed during this time. Be sure to add any social media links such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. in your email signature. These are just a few examples of how you can utilize Smartcare’s built-in messaging feature.
Text Messaging: Smartcare’s SMS (text) Feature
Your childcare center can utilize Smartcare’s text messaging feature to send reminders to families to check their email, announce reopening dates, virtual meetings/events, etc. Similar to the email feature above you can also filter which segments receive these text messages. Note: There is a per message per recipient fee for using this feature.
If you need more information regarding using either of these Smartcare features please refer to the Smartcare Center Web User Guide, our Help & Resource Center, or reach out to your CSM or our dedicated Support Team at by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 844-SMARTER (844-762-7837).
For more in depth ideas on how to use Smartcare’s messaging and SMS features, check out this blog.
Additional Communication Tools:
Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc
Utilize your social media platforms to encourage engagement with your families, employees, and students. Create posts containing updates, community resources, virtual events, photos, student spotlight, etc. You can also make videos, upload them to YouTube, and share on your social media accounts to keep your families and employees updated and engaged.
Virtual Meeting Rooms: Zoom, GoToMeeting, Join.Me, etc
Virtual meeting rooms are a great tool and can be used several different ways during this time. If you are offering virtual learning you can use them as virtual classes for your students. You can also use them for virtual office hours for parents and/or employees that have questions or concerns while your center is closed. You may choose to schedule virtual events such as family trivia night, virtual class parties, virtual snack time, etc. Note: Many of these third party companies require a monthly subscription fee.
These are just a few examples of features and tools that you can use, the possibilities are endless when it comes to communicating and staying engaged with your families and employees during this time.
With social distancing being the new normal during the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone is starting to feel the strain of not being with their loved ones and family at this time. Whether you have adult children who are social distancing with their own families, or friends and co-workers you use to see every day, we are all trying to find ways to stay connected. This is the time to come up with some creative ways to keep in contact and have fun with it! Whether it is group texts or video conferences, here are some ideas to make it fun.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
Start a group text and designate a ‘host’. The host will put together a list of items for everyone to find around the house and decide how much time you have to find the items. You can modify the list to fit the age group. For the younger group, you can list easy items (a plate, an animal, etc.).
For the older crowd, you can use ideas like a selfie with a paper hat. You can also do a magazine/newspaper scavenger hunt. Make a list of items (man with a beard, red lipstick) and have everyone take a picture of the item in the magazine/newspaper. Once you have your pictures, use a collage app on your phone to put the pictures together and send them to the group chat. The first person to find the most items wins!
Family Dinner – Video Conference Style
Pick a day for your family to eat together, during a video conference! Decide on a day and a meal and start the video conference! You can cook together and then eat together. It’s a way to get the family to spend some special time together, without being together.
Family Game Night
Using video conferencing or a video chat, you can have a family game night with card or dice games. For example, using games like Yahtzee or Farkle, you can set up a video conference and play the games together. Use games that do not require everyone to be in the same space. A game of Monopoly would not work well in this situation. You can even karaoke together!
Take a walk together
Even if it is just a walk around the corner, you can video chat with your family, while getting some fresh air. You can use this opportunity to play another quick scavenger hunt game.
We do not know how long we will have to social distance, but we can only try to make the best of it and have some fun. Please remember if you are going out, protect yourself and others and keep your distance!
This series of blogs covers ways to help childcare businesses navigate this confusing time. Right now, many parents and staff may be especially concerned about the cleaning and disinfection of your facility if you are still open. If you are one of the many childcare businesses who’ve had to close their doors, you might be concerned about how to properly disinfect prior to re-opening. The CDC offers some great resources and tips, which we’ve compiled for you below.
If Someone Suspected/Confirmed to Have COVID-19 Has Been in Your Facility
This article from the CDC is specifically written for community facilities. It includes how to clean and disinfect in general, but also gets into specifics for COVID-19, such as how to disinfect if you know an affected person has been in your facility. Additionally, it covers PPE equipment.
What to do Before and During an Outbreak
The CDC has specific guidelines (read here) for schools and child care programs. You can then assure your parents you are following all of the recommended guidelines. These recommendations are broken down by ‘at all times’ and ‘during an outbreak’, so you’ll know which actions to take, regardless of your center’s situation.
Directory of Local Health Departments
Check out the Directory of Local Health Departments to find contact information for your local health department, should you have any COVID-19 specific questions. Many of the other articles linked here also address when you should contact your local health department.
EPA: Disinfectants List
It’s important to know which disinfectants are appropriate and effective. Check out the recommended list from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) here. All products on this list meet the EPA’s criteria for user again the virus that causes COVID-19.
Cleaning and Disinfection for Households
It’s just as important to keep your home disinfected as it is your facility, so you aren’t transferring germs between locations. Read this article, for tips on the following:
- Includes general recommendations for routine cleaning and disinfection of households
- Cleaning and disinfection of households with people isolated in home care
- How to clean and disinfect
- Hand hygiene and other preventive measures
Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
This resource contains specific information for facilities on how to disinfect:
- Soft surfaces
You’ll also find:
- Everyday tips
- Tips when someone is sick
- Considerations for employers
We hope you find these resources on cleaning and disinfecting your facility and home helpful. During this unsure time, it can be very reassuring to know we are doing the best we can, to provide for the safety of others.
Depending on where you live in the country, you’re likely at least a few weeks into government mandated changes to day-to-day behavior in response to COVID-19. Regardless of whether you’re living under a stay-at-home order or social distancing advice, if you’re finding it challenging to maximize student enrollment, here are some ideas to help.
Be Proactive With Your Parents
First and foremost, proactively address how your center is minimizing the risk of infection. Parents are worried their children could get sick. So, by acknowledging what you’re doing, you’re giving current and prospective parents peace of mind in a very unsettled time.
Publish what you’re doing front and center on your website. An example would be, “At Smartcare School we are committed to keeping your children and our staff healthy. We are following the advice of public health experts, by requiring these policies:
- Temperature checks at drop-off. No child with a fever can attend that day.
- Regular hand washing, especially any time a staff member or child enters the center or moves from one room to another.
- Disinfecting staff and children belongings upon arrival.
- Staff and children must always wear masks.
- Children are kept separate as much as is possible.”
Look Out for Potential Enrollment Opportunities
The first place to start is providing care for essential workers. Many essential workers are working more and longer shifts, and many have had their normal childcare options disrupted. Many more might not know that your center is able to provide care. Not only would you help an essential worker who needs childcare, but you would be contributing meaningfully to your community’s efforts to address the pandemic. Here’s what we recommend:
First, reach out to employers of essential workers in your community such as hospitals, police departments, fire departments, grocery stores, and distribution centers.
It might take some effort but starting with a call or email to the general number and asking to speak with the organization’s HR department is the best place to start. Once you’re in contact with the HR department, ask if they provide a list of childcare providers to their staff, and if they do, ask to be on the list, and if they do not, ask that their staff be made aware of your offerings.
Next, think about extending your service hours.
Most essential workers are not working normal “9 to 5” shifts, but they still need childcare. Under normal circumstances, it might not have made sense to offer care outside of normal business hours, or it may have been difficult to find teachers willing to do so. But we aren’t living under normal circumstances. Offering longer service hours will allow you to care for more children.
Once you’ve contacted employers of essential workers and expanded your service hours to care for their children when they’re working, the next thing you should do is focus on local search.
Many parents, even those who aren’t essential workers, are looking for new childcare options. Most of those parents use one or more of the following services to find care. At a minimum, you should make sure you’re signed up for and have a complete profile with each service, which is normally free. The list below includes links to sign-up if you aren’t already:
We hope this helps your center maximize enrollment in challenging times. Most importantly, thank you for continuing to provide childcare to workers in all occupations. Your efforts are the reason many people can continue to work today, and your efforts will be the foundation which will allows many more people to get back to work in what we hope is the not too distant future.