Office of Early Learning
(Tuesday, March 24, 2020 @ 2:46 PM)
Dear School Readiness (SR) and Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Providers:
The Department of Education (DOE) and the Office of Early Learning (OEL) are committed to providing up-to-date information and guidance to our early learning community to address concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of the children, families, and providers' staff is of utmost importance.
We strongly recommend:
- You adhere to the CDC’s March 15, 2020 Interim Guidance for higher-risk populations by limiting children and employees to no more than 10 people in a single occupied space.
- You should also continuously monitor CDC guidance and to fully comply with all directives.
On March 17, Governor DeSantis held a press conference and DOE issued a
detailing [OEL's] efforts to:
- Ensure that all SR and VPK providers receive their funding – which means we will pay/reimburse for additional child absences when the provider is open and for those that occur during temporary closures.
- Eliminate all requirements for the remaining child screenings/assessments or provider program assessments for the 2019-20 program year.
- Extend timelines for provider improvement plans and reports.
For families, [OEL is]:
- Suspending termination of SR eligibility.
- Extending the timelines for re-determination of SR eligibility.
- Waiving parent co-pays/fees for all eligible families regardless of their income.
OEL is dedicated to ensuring that child care providers will be able to financially support their day-to-day operations,
including paying teachers
. OEL will be working with the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County in the coming days to provide more details related to implementation, and
specifically requested that you do not make changes to your current SR or VPK calendars at this time
We would like to also remind that providers should also continue to implement health and safety routines and proper hygiene within their programs and adhere to CDC guidance which includes but is not limited to:
- Encouraging staff and parents to protect their personal health.
- Posting signs and symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, shortness of breath.
- Encouraging parents to stay home and keep children home when sick.
- Creating and maintaining heightened cleaning and sanitation procedures is of the utmost important; Clean surfaces that are frequently touched – things such as shared desks, toys, counter-tops, kitchen areas, electronics and doorknobs.
- Postponing or canceling field trips and meetings that require close contact.
- Staying up to date on developments in your community.
- Creating an emergency plan for possible outbreak.