Child-care center on campus limits numbers during pandemic

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s Educational Research Center for Child Development. Photo Courtesy: Sandler Fleurima

Covid-19 has already made its presence felt on Florida A&M University’s campus. Although safety protocols are vital, can they help keep the children of FAMU’s Educational Research Center for Child Development (ERCCD) safe?

Kenedria Thurman, the ERCCD director, said the center has had to take steps to ensures that its quality is held to maintain its title as “early learning and quality care” and not a “day care.”

“My experience has been to ensure the center’s quality and recognition as more than daycare,” Thurman said. “We are an on-campus child-care facility committed to early learning and quality care.”

ERCCD offers a unique learning experience to all students by helping them develop socially, physically, emotionally and intellectually.

There were more than 80 students enrolled prior to COVID-19. The center now has just over 50 students.

Thurman said that  because of the continuous spread of COVID-19,  the center decreased the numbers to avoid the risk of infectious disease. It has also increased cleaning protocols for staff throughout the center.

“Our school family included 89 children birth to 5. [5-12 years for afterschool] Now we have 53,” she said. “We reduced capacity to aid the staff in mitigating communicable illness by increasing cleaning procedures but allowing for more intimate care and smaller teacher-to-child ratios.”

Parents with children enrolled at the center are confident in the new protocols the faculty is implementing to ensure their child is safe from COVID-19.

“Our enrolled families are confident in our operating procedures and safety measures,” said Thurman. “Families have been quite supportive of the efforts we make in providing a healthy environment for young children.”

A parent who wished to remain anonymous said they are thrilled to see that the center is taking proper protocols to ensure every student remains as safe as possible.

“I love the new procedures that are going on in this center,” the parent said.  “I can honestly say that although the virus is spreading continuously, I know that my child is in safe hands.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protecting people, including children and staff, who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.

New protocols implemented by the ERCCD include, masks must be worn by all adults, regardless of vaccination status, disposable aprons are used during diaper changes or when handling bodily fluids, and outdoor drop-off and pick-up for families and school family gatherings are virtual events. Disposable items are now used for meals and the children are no longer served “family style.”

As the coronavirus continues, the ERCCD will ensure that most of its operations for hygiene and wellness are heightened to minimize the spread of any infectious illness. The center will also provide daily wellness checks for all staff, children and guests.