July 14, 2020
Dear Preschool Families,
We hope that your family is continuing to enjoy a safe, healthy, and fun summer together. Thank you for your patience as we worked to develop plans to return to preschool for the 2020-21 school year. While it will look different than years past, t he mission and developmental philosophy of St. Francis Preschool will remain the same... to provide a safe and loving environment where the development of the whole child, the joy of learning, and the recognition of God in our lives are nurtured through peer interactions, thoughtful instruction, and play.  
The public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-changing situation, so we are doing everything in our power to create a safe, welcoming, developmentally appropriate learning environment. Our current plan is based on what we know and what we can control. This plan was carefully constructed in collaboration with preschool directors from St. Michael, St. Raphael, St. Andrew, and Sacred Heart (Pinehurst) along with parish leadership, the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Raleigh, and our own task force. The overall goal was to create a plan that minimizes risk while maximizing learning and socialization, which are the hallmarks of a quality early childhood education, acknowledging that no school can completely eradicate the risk.

At this time, we plan to reopen on our norm al schedule for the 2020-21 school year with enhanced health and cleaning procedures in place to protect all students, staff, and families. Please keep in mind that this plan is subject to Governor Cooper’s final decision about schools as well as any updated guidelines from NCDHHS/CDC. 
As you’ve heard, Governor Cooper has asked K-12 schools to develop guidelines according to three plans:

·          Plan A : minimal social distancing
·          Plan B : moderate social distancing involving
·          Plan C:  remote learning only

Please note that in both Plan A and B, preschools are permitted to operate under the health department’s guidelines at full capacity and on a normal schedule .

According to a recent publication from the American Academy of Pediatrics , “In Pre-K, the relative impact of physical distancing among children is likely small based on current evidence and certainly difficult to implement. Therefore, Pre-K should focus on more effective risk mitigation strategies for this population. These include hand hygiene, infection prevention education for staff and families, adult physical distancing from one another, adults wearing face coverings, cohorting, and spending time outdoors.” 

The attached plan provides specific guidelines that will be implemented should the governor decide that K-12 schools will open in the fall under Plan A or B. If schools open in Plan C, remote learning only, the preschool would remain closed. We would not open until schools move to Plans A or B. These guidelines follow the requirements and recommendations in the NCDHHS Child Care Strong Public Health Tool Kit last updated on June 26, 2020. This document differs from the K-12 guidelines and gives specific guidance for preschools and daycares. 

You can access our full reopening plan HERE . Below are some of the plan’s key points :

All large gatherings will be canceled or modified.

Health screenings will be completed daily for all students and staff. This includes a temperature check and questions about symptoms and exposure (see HERE on page 15).

A carpool system will be utilized for drop-off/pick-up. 
It may be necessary to slightly stagger arrival/dismissal times for some classes.

Each class will be considered a ‘bubble’ with children and teachers not mixing with other classes on the playground or for specials. 

We will follow the current recommendation of CDC/NCDHHS to restrict parents and/or volunteers from entering the building. Teachers and staff will continue to use other ways to provide parents with glimpses of classroom learning that is occurring for their child (i.e. Google Photo, Bloomz, Shutterfly, etc.) 

No outside groups will be allowed at the school. 

Exceptions to the visitor policy will only be professionals providing health/developmental needs (ie. therapists).
Classrooms will be rearranged to maximize the ability of children to spread out, whenever possible. Activities currently prohibited by NCDHHS guidelines, such as playdough, sandboxes, and sensory tables, will not be used. Comparable activities to allow for engaging skills that the prohibited activities would have addressed will be offered.

All staff will wear face coverings while in the building. Children will not be required to wear a face covering. See the full reopening plan for more specific information.

Our preschool facility, both during the school day by staff and nightly by a professional cleaning crew, will be cleaned with enhanced cleaning products and procedures.

As always, we will educate the children on good hygiene practices, such as frequent and effective handwashing, using sanitizer safely, and coughing/sneezing into your elbow.
Should schools need to close for a short time during the school year, we will be prepared to offer temporary distance learning.
Parents and staff will be provided with information about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (see HERE page 1 for list of symptoms). They will be responsible for learning this information. If they or their children exhibit any of the symptoms, all members of the family are required to stay home. It is imperative that we all work together to keep our preschool healthy! We will follow the NCDHHS guidelines for exposure to COVID-19 (see HERE on page 13). If any staff member, child, or parent has been determined to be in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, they must notify the preschool office and follow the above plan before returning to childcare.

If there is a delay in the opening of preschool, we will offer credits and/or refunds for any prepaid tuition.

If a family chooses to withdraw from our school, prepaid tuition will be refunded ONLY if our office is notified in writing by July 27th . (email is acceptable). Otherwise tuition policies in the Parent Handbook will apply. As a reminder, tuition is paid one month in advance.

Registration fees are not refundable.
Although our program may look differently than in past years, what has not changed is our commitment to providing a safe and nurturing environment that educates each child spiritually, academically, physically, and emotionally. We look forward to a preschool year filled with love, learning, friendship, and fun.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions at Heidi.hobler@stfrancisraleigh.org .
Thank you for entrusting us with the early education of your child! 
With Joy,

Heidi Hobler
St. Francis of Assisi Preschool
11401 Leesville Road Raleigh, NC 27613
919-847-8205 ext. 240