Dear Sprouts Families,
At Brookline Sprouts, we want to create an environment that is as safe as possible while meeting the needs of families. While we would like to get “back to normal” as soon as possible, we must also consider the safety and health of students, staff, and families. While we are in the yellow phase, we must all remember that COVID-19 is still a real threat to the public health of our community. At this time, taking into consideration current federal and state recommendations, we will be utilizing the following health and safety policies.
Drop Off Procedures:
Only enrolled children and staff will be permitted inside of the building at this time. Therefore, at drop off, staff will meet families outside. If no staff member is present, please call 412-531-0590 and follow the options and someone will come out to you. Please observe social distancing from other families while waiting for your child’s turn for check-in. Adults dropping off should have a mask on.
Pick Up Procedures:
Once again, staff will bring your child outside for you to minimize non-staff members in the building, and we will have a staff member outside at high-volume pickup times.
While we understand that some of these procedures may take extra time throughout the day, as well as at pick up and drop off, we ask for your patience as we require everyone’s full cooperation on these matters. We will be evaluating all of these procedures in practice daily, and these policies will be fine-tuned and streamlined as much as possible without compromising safety.
We also would like to make you aware of other changes going on at Sprouts in order to keep your child safe and healthy. Throughout the day, staff will implement the following policies and procedures. This is in addition to all previous strict procedures for health and safety according to Child Care Center guidelines.
It is the responsibility of all families to regularly educate themselves with the ongoing CDC regulations, DHS regulations, Local, State, and Federal Health Officials, and Brookline Sprouts policy amendments which will all be posted here on our website.
* Per most recent guidance, the temperature considered a fever was changed from 100.4F to 100.0F.
On 6/28/2020, the Allegheny County Health Department issued a statement asking that individuals that travel outside of the state self-quarantine for 14 days because of the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Allegheny County. What most people are not realizing is that there have been more cases of COVID-19 reported in the past week than any other week since the beginning of the pandemic shutdowns. At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was concerned with the hospitals running out of resources to be able to care for this new virus. While our community is further ahead in this battle, we still have much ground to gain. There is still too much uncertainty about how the virus works and how it affects others. This is why we must all do our part.
On 6/29/2020 we sent out a parent survey to gain more insight as to how all of our families would like to respond to this recommendation of the Allegheny County Health Department. We know that some areas across the country are very contagious and are being labeled as “hot spots” for COVID-19 spread. (Areas currently include, but are not limited to: Florida, Arizona, Texas, and the Carolina Coasts). We realize that some people had previously made vacation plans before this recommendation came out by the Health Department.
The results of the survey were clear: everyone wants to be careful around “hot spot” areas. Therefore, effective immediately until either A) the Allegheny County Health Department changes their position or B) another authority gives us further guidance and overrides our current policy, the following is the policy of Brookline Sprouts, effective 6/30/2020.
For the safety of all families and staff involved in our center, no child will be permitted in the center if they have traveled to an area deemed to be a COVID-19 “hot spot” unless they have either:
We are also adopting the following policy for staff: No staff will be permitted to work with children if they have traveled to an area deemed to be a COVID-19 “hot spot” unless they have either:
We are adopting these policies based on the recommendations of the Health Department and feedback from all the families who completed the survey. We hope that everyone understands that these changes may cause Brookline Sprouts to make sudden adjustments to class and staff schedules based on predetermined employee travel. We are doing everything we can to provide seamless care to as many children as possible. However, in light of the current number of new cases coupled with our other mitigation strategies, we will always keep safety as our highest priority. In the event of staff challenges, we will alert everyone as quickly as possible. In light of a global pandemic, it is important that you (and your employer) know that government led changes to Health Policy may impact the center’s ability to provide care for your child.
Please consider the above policy as you make your vacation plans and let us know if adjustments will need to be made to your child’s schedule to accommodate self-quarantine time. We do not want to be forced to close the center because of COVID-19 coming through our center. Please note that if any child or staff is found to be positive for COVID-19 we are required to report to all families, the health department, and will have to close the center immediately and thus not permit anyone to attend until we complete the mandated cleaning cycles. We would also need to wait for all staff to be cleared to return to work following an exposure. Regardless of how you personally feel about the virus, its infection rate, the government oversight or overreach, Brookline Sprouts at Tree of Life Open Bible Church (and all other state licensed child care centers) do not have a choice and are required to follow all safety guidelines including mandated closures.
Dr. Bogen of the Allegheny County Health Department is offering several reminders if you do travel (anywhere not just hotspots), including:
If we work together we will all stay healthy and safe. Thank you for understanding. Please call the center at 412-531-0590 if you have questions.
Additional “hot spot areas” are being added to the travel policy:
Brookline Sprouts Families,
For all of us, the use of face coverings and masks to slow the spread of covid-19 have been utilized for most of the year. As cases continue to occur, many health authorities have released guidance related to more universal practices related to face coverings in public settings. In accordance with statements made by both the PA Department of Health and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Brookline Sprouts is required to enact a new policy with regard to universal face coverings. Children at Brookline Sprouts will now be required to wear masks.
Partnership between families and the center is crucial for these new practices. We are going to not only train staff on the newest policies, but we are also going to spend classroom time to talk with the children, coach them, and encourage them throughout the day with regard to this change. The children have proven to be resilient and flexible for many large, sweeping changes we have had to make because of covid-19 back in May at Sprouts, and we are confident that they will do well with masks as well. We have been pleasantly surprised by their adaptability in many areas. But, in order for us to see that there is success with regard to masks, they must have positive support from the adults in their lives both in school and at home. We will be sending out resources and information related to talking to your child about masks. Our new policy is outlined below.
Children in Brookline Sprouts are required to wear masks. In order for Brookline Sprouts to manage the challenges universal face coverings for all children presents, we plan to execute the following plan to help the children. Our goal is to keep the children healthy, as well as to feel as comfortable as possible at school.
Brookline Sprouts will provide the same exact style of mask for all children, because we feel that uniform masks for all children will help them to feel more comfortable socially (they get to “match” all of their friends). Furthermore, having one style of mask in bulk for all children ensures that there will always be a clean mask available if the one they are wearing becomes soiled in any way. This also eliminates the burden of families remembering to bring one each morning and wash them regularly at home (or purchase more if disposable). Families will not have to determine if a particular mask meets the necessary requirements, too. With on-site laundry at the center, having a supply of clean, freshly-laundered masks for each child can be maintained. Children refusing to wear a mask must have a note from a healthcare professional stating a health authority approved exemption.
In order to minimize the risk of children accidentally placing a used mask on incorrectly, or accidentally putting on another child’s mask, Brookline Sprouts is going to distribute new masks throughout the day at regular intervals when they are being removed as a group. This removes difficulties related to temporary storage of masks when the children are not wearing them. Masks will be collected for washing and will be replaced with new, freshly laundered when it is time to put them back on (and as often as they are needed). The following will be mask-less times:
These times are because the activity and structure of the program allows for safe mask removal, and/or necessitates removal due to the activity taking place. During meals, the children are seated and consistently 6ft apart or more and cannot eat with a mask on. During outdoor play, the children are in an area of greater ventilation and air exchange (outdoors), and are engaged in rigorous physical activity. The CDC recommends removal of face coverings during exercise, and to do so outdoors. During nap time, the children’s cots are 6ft apart or greater, and the CDC recommends removal of face coverings while sleeping or unconscious.
Due to this mask requirement for the children, there are costs involved. We make every effort to provide quality care while being cost effective. However, this cost cannot be covered by tuition. Therefore, in order to cover mask-related costs. We are enstating a one-time “mask fee” of $10. There will also be an ongoing “laundry fee” of $0.50 per day of attendance per week to cover the costs of laundering and maintaining masks for the children. For example, if your child is contracted to attend M/W/F (3 days a week) there will be a charge of $1.50 per week added to invoices. If a family would like to have a mask from Brookline Sprouts to practice with the identical style we will provide at home, they can be purchased for $3 per mask. Please note – if you are an ELRC family, these fees are NOT covered by ELRC and will be in addition to your copayment.
Added to self-quarantine list:
Also, moving forward, families are to refer to the list presented via this link for which states are self-quarantine according to the travel policy (public beaches and casinos still apply indefinitely):
Outside Food Policy
Dear Sprouts Families,
In light of recent events, and in order to have clear policies between us and families moving forward, we are putting forth a tuition policy for covid-19 related closures. The policy is that, if we have to close for a covid-19 related reason, we will waive all add-on fees (laundry, early drop off, etc.), as well as 50% of the base tuition rate. A reduction in services (i.e. shorter operating hours) does not count as closure, and may or may not result in partially waived tuition.
The remaining 50% base tuition price will be charged to ensure that your child’s spot remains secure to return at their regular schedule upon reopen. (ELRC clients will be expected to pay their copayment amount OR 50% of the base tuition pay rate, whichever is less.) This reduced tuition payment helps to offset overhead costs, which are due with or without children in care (utilities, service memberships, and other administrative costs), and we as a center will be able to reopen as smoothly as possible with all services, employees, etc. This also helps to cover any new costs that the center may incur in order to accommodate any changes in recommendations from our licensing agency and health authorities to reopen.
Please note, this policy does not include planned or sudden closures for other reasons, such as holiday breaks, utility failure, etc. Full tuition will be due as outlined in the original contracts signed upon enrollment.
If a family chooses not to pay the 50% base tuition, this will be considered termination of contract by the family, and the child’s spot will be opened up for another family/new enrollment. Any applicable withdrawal fees as outlined in original contracts would be applied as if the child was withdrawn on the first date of the closure. If the family wishes to re-enroll the child at a later date, it will be as a new enrollment, subject to the most recent tuition prices, a new enrollment deposit, and availability of schedules.
Weather Related Closure Update: In light of Pittsburgh Public Schools having an atypical in-person schedule, we will now be posting our own 2 hour delays and closures for inclement weather. They can be seen on WTAE television channel and online at https://www.wtae.com/weather/closings.