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Keeping kids COVID safe: Carter Childcare and Early Learning Center takes steps to sanitize and separate

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Small children might be among the hardest groups to keep safe from COVID-19, especially when you get them together in groups. They touch their faces. They put things in their mouths. Getting them to wear a mask is difficult if not downright impossible. Despite this, Ed Messer explained, the family run Carter Childcare and Early Learning Center was doing everything in their power to keep the kids in their care COVID free. 

This starts with arrival. Parents are encouraged to stay in their vehicles while staff retrieves children. The parents of very small children may get out of the car at drop-off or pick-up to help with car seats, but they are not allowed to come inside at present. The staff also does a temperature check of every child at drop-off, with contactless scanning thermometers. If any child has a fever they are not allowed to stay. If they develop a fever during the day, parents are also contacted to come pick them up early. 

Inside, Messer explained, all toys and surfaces are sanitized. They also sanitize all door knobs and floors, and even spray carpeted areas down with Lysol disinfectants. At the end of the day, if it’s been a nice day and kids were allowed to play outside on playground equipment, that equipment is also sanitized. 

“The swings and all the playground equipment are all washed down with disinfectant,” Messer explained. 

Inside they have used vinyl privacy fencing as partitions in rooms, so they can meet state mandates that require students to be segregated from one another in groups of 10 or fewer. The vinyl fencing not only looks better than other partitions, Messer said, it’s also very easy to clean and sanitize. He said the staff and teachers are happy with the vinyl fencing dividers as well, because they aren’t losing the capacity in their large rooms, and it helps the teachers face less chaos as they work with smaller groups. 

In addition to the small groups and the regular sanitizing and cleaning, all children over age five are required to wear masks or face shields, along with their teachers and other staff. 

Staff said they are also emphasizing regular hand washing. Children are directed to wash their hands when they arrive and when they leave, as well as at regular intervals throughout the day. 

If a child does develop a fever, Messer said, they would encourage parents to have them tested for COVID-19, just as a precaution. But, he said, they haven’t yet had any issues with fevers or other virus symptoms. 

“If we did, we’d have to address quarantine with teachers and other students they were in contact with,” Messer said. 

Messer said the same measures will be in place with the organization’s new location in Olive Hill. They haven’t yet chosen an opening date for their West Carter location, but Messer said remodeling of the location, in the old Allen Wilson Martial Arts studio, are currently underway and they hope to open some time after the start of the school year. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com.

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