5/20/2020
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.

  • The parent/guardian will be asked a list of health screening questions about the child.
  • A staff member will take the child’s temperature with a touchless thermometer and will be a visual inspection of the child for signs of illness. Children with a temperature over 100.0F* or who appear to be ill will not be permitted to enter the facility.
  • At that time, as long as they appear to be in good health, staff will check in the child in Brightwheel, making a comment as to who dropped them off, and will escort the child into the building.

 

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. 

  • Approach the door and ring the bell. If another family is at the door, wait at the bottom of the steps to the side before approaching the door. Make note to observe social distancing from other families while waiting for your child’s turn for check-out. Adults picking up must have a mask on.
  • Staff will gather any materials from the day and other belongings, and bring them out to you.
  • A staff member will check them out in Brightwheel for you, making a comment as to who picked them up. Staff may require a  visual inspection of an ID if they do not recognize adults due to face coverings.

 

Outside items:

  • Any outside toys, backpacks, or other unnecessary items should be left at home for the foreseeable future. 
  • Outside food of any kind is prohibited at this time. 
  • Napping children are limited to ONE SMALL blanket – no stuffed animals, pillows, etc. The blanket will be sent home to be laundered at least weekly. 

 

Health Policies:

  •  We expect families to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. In children, this is most commonly a fever (100.0F or higher),* runny nose, and cough, and in some cases also shortness of breath, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Other symptoms include chills or repeated shaking with chills and a new loss of taste or smell.
  • If a child is showing any signs of illness (COVID-19 or otherwise) at drop off, they will not be permitted to enter the center and will not be able to return until cleared with a doctor note.
  • If a child begins to show any signs or symptoms of illness during the day, the child will be removed from the rest of the children. Then, families will be contacted and they will be asked to pick up their child immediately (30 minutes or less).
  • If the child, household members, and/or someone your child was in close contact with has a confirmed COVID-19 infection, notify Brookline Sprouts immediately. Do not attempt to bring your child to the center until your child’s doctor feels it is safe to return and you can give us a note that they are cleared.

 

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.

 

Other policies:

  • Installation of additional touchless hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility.
  • Staff are subject to daily health screenings, similar to the child screenings.
  • Use of common items will be minimized. For instance, the children will now have a personal bin with their own crayons, scissors, etc. that is not used by any other children. Also, children will be given assigned seats for the day in all areas, including lunch and activity tables. Surfaces such as table tops and chairs will be cleaned between children if the need arises.
  • Children will be encouraged to remain physically distant from one another at all times.
  • Staff will minimize any physical contact with children throughout the day, change clothes throughout the day, and will wear masks.
  • Staff will conduct midday health screenings on every child (similar to drop off screening).
  • There will be frequent handwashing or hand sanitizing breaks. 
  • There will be increased spacing of cots at nap time, and seating at meal and activity times.
  • Soft toys are temporarily removed from the center. All toys and common surfaces on furniture will be sanitized at least twice a day and in between children of different households. The overall number of toys, furniture, and other items in the classrooms has been temporarily reduced.
  • Only essential individuals are permitted in the center. There will be no visiting guests and only essential agency partners.
  • Disposable items will be used whenever possible, such as dishware at meals.
  • Staff will attempt to increase pictures and updates in Brightwheel to foster peace of mind with families.
  • Other policies will be amended and regularly updated at www.brooklinesprouts.com/covid19

 

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.

 

6/24/2020 UPDATED:

* Per most recent guidance, the temperature considered a fever was changed from 100.4F to 100.0F.

 

6/30/2020 UPDATED:

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:

  • Stayed out of Sprouts for 14 days from the day they have returned, which is the CDC’s recommended self-quarantine time
  • Turn in doctor’s notes showing two negative COVID-19 test results at least 48 hours apart after the child’s return from traveling.

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:

  • Completed a 14 day self-quarantine from the day they return from traveling, or
  • Turn in doctor’s notes showing two negative COVID-19 tests at least 48 hours apart.

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:

  • Consider rescheduling, changing, or postponing plans if the area is seeing a surge in cases.
  • Avoid crowded locations and close contact with people.
  • Always wear a mask, even if not required.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after being in public areas.

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. 

7/3/2020 UPDATED:

Additional “hot spot areas” are being added to the travel policy:

  • Any casino or public beach
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah


    7-8-2020 UPDATED: 

    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:

     

  • Meal & Snack Times
  • Outdoor Play
  • Nap

    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.

    In summary:

    • Children should arrive at the center wearing a mask. Masks from home will be removed and placed in a child’s cubby upon arrival so that they can wear the Brookline Sprouts masks throughout the day.
    • Children will be sent home with whatever mask they arrived in. Masks from the center will not be sent home, but can be purchased.
    • Every time a child soils their mask, they will be instructed to sanitize or wash their hands and will be given a new mask.
    • Everytime a child touches their mask they will be instructed to sanitize or wash their hands.
    • When a child handles their mask improperly, they will be instructed to sanitize or wash their hands and will be given a new mask.
    • It is anticipated that a child will need a new mask a minimum of 5 times per day.
    • If your child refuses to wear a mask, Brookline Sprouts is forced to call for your child to be picked up immediately unless they have a note from a healthcare professional stating a health authority approved exemption.
    • There will be a one-time mask fee, as well as a weekly laundry fee per enrolled child being added to invoices.
    • Helping the children through this transition requires the support of family at home as well as Sprouts staff.


      7-15-2020 UPDATED:

      Added to self-quarantine list:

    7-22-2020 UPDATED:

Outside Food Policy

We understand that many families are accustomed to sending in special food items to celebrate important milestone days such as birthdays, we wanted to attempt to accommodate families better and adjust our policy previously prohibiting bringing in any and all outside food. We have been able to secure a plan with a local bakery so that children can have celebration treats to share with their classmates. Tree of Life/Brookline Sprouts is not liable for anything regarding these items and simply wanted to provide this service to benefit the children. Brookline Sprouts requires that the following process be used for celebration items:
  • Please request on Brightwheel which day you would like to have items for distribution.
  • Wait to receive confirmation from Amanda or Tracy regarding the food distribution.
  • After receiving confirmation, order any desired items from Party Cake Shop on Brookline Blvd. Payment must be made over the phone. Specifically state that this order will be picked up by staff from Tree of Life/Brookline Sprouts at 8am on the confirmed day.
  • After the order has been paid for, message on Brookline Sprouts with the date and what the items are (cookies, cupcakes, etc.).
  • Staff will do their best to send a photo of the items to you on Brightwheel.

    8-4-2020 UPDATED:

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.

8-21-20 UPDATED

 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.