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First Step Focuses On 'Clean In And Clean Out!' This School Year

October 6, 2020

First Step Safety

First Step Preschool is excited to welcome Parma City School District’s littlest learners back to the building this fall! 

“We are so happy to have preschoolers back,” expressed Lara Svihlik, Early Childhood Coordinator for the Parma City School District. “We are taking extra measures and every extra precaution we can to make sure all students, staff and community members are safe.”

The motto this year for the building is ‘Clean In and Clean Out!’ and focuses on keeping hands clean with good handwashing and hand sanitizing as often as possible.

Masks are recommended by the state of Ohio for preschoolers, but not required. Svihlik said preschoolers will do their best to wear them during the day and they will have plenty of mask breaks. Plus, while the weather is nice, the building will be utilizing their outdoor learning spaces.

“All adults in the building will be wearing masks and we also have face shields and barriers,” she shared. “We also have updated our supply list to include individual water bottles and snack as well as a beach towel for outside learning.”

During hybrid learning, First Step students are broken into four cohorts and will stay with their cohort throughout the school day. Also, during hybrid learning, there are smaller class ratios, and students will not be mingling with other students who are not in their cohort.  Siblings are grouped together in classrooms per Ohio Department of Education recommendation.

All shared toys and materials will be fully sanitized and cleaned frequently. Each child will have individualized supply boxes, including Play-Doh, and classrooms have removed sensory and water tables, Svihlik described.

The school turned its library into a clinic and will have staff taking temperatures when children arrive. Anything 100 degrees or above is reassessed in 10 minutes. First Step will be following the district’s health and safety protocols, and a school nurse is staffed.

“We are doing everything we can to keep our students and staff safe as safety is our number one priority,” Svihlik emphasized. “Neighboring preschools and childcare centers have been operating and keeping children and staff safe since June. I am very optimistic that we will be successful, too.”

Something new this year is staff has been trained in the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-3). This is an assessment tool to help teachers evaluate the curriculum they have, what materials they need, and prioritize what materials are important during COVID-19.

“We have seen our students virtually and we have made connections with them already,” she shared. “Preschool is all about those in-person interactions and social experiences, so we look forward to continuing those connections here in our building.”