ORLANDO, Fla. - Parents with young children in the Head Start program are enrolling online. Should students be allowed to return to the classroom, plans are being made to make it safer.
Head Start is an early childhood comprehensive program for low-income students ages 3 to 5.
Little four-year-old Alanna is enrolled in the Head Start program. While her parents, Kingsford and Candace Bloomfield, cherish having her at home, they wonder if she and other students will be allowed in the classroom this fall because of COVID-19.
"If it is safe, I would love children to return back to school," said Kingsford Bloomfield, "because education outside of the home setting is just as important as education in the home setting."
Candice added, "It’s a new normal that we have to implement and try to explain to our children."
Orange County Head Start Director Sonya Hill said that if students are allowed back into the classroom, social distancing or wearing a mask will not be required unless a child has a health issue. She said that it based on guidance for early childhood programs from the Centers for Disease Control.
Hill said they will wipe down playground equipment daily. She said parents will have limited access to classrooms and won’t be dropping their children off inside the building. Teachers, however, will be taking the precautions.
"They’re even suggesting the early childhood teachers now wear a smock to cover their own clothes. The slip over booties over their shoes," she explained.
Additionally, kids will not be piling into the cafeteria for lunch.
"Maybe transferring that into our classrooms like we did before."
As Hill celebrates Head Start’s 55th Anniversary she said, COVID-19 has brought on an unexpected surprise.
"This has been challenging but yet rewarding to see the parents be the child’s first teacher."
For Bloomfield, he said it rewarding to watch his daughter develop her skills, especially since he too attended Head Start, as a child in New York.
"I don’t think I would have been able to take any of the advanced courses or read at the level I was reading if it wasn’t for Head Start," he added.
If you have a young child at home learning, make sure they keep a routine, Hill suggested. If you know you have a meeting every day at a certain time, then schedule quiet time or reading time for that hour.
We are still waiting to hear if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will allow students to go back to school this fall.