On August 29th, more than 200 early childhood educators took part in our first Early Learning Symposium virtual workshop, which focused on health and safety in reopening childcare during COVID-19. The participants included Head Start and OUSD teachers, private center staff, and family child care providers. They heard tips from providers who are currently open, as well as updates from Alameda County Public Health and Alameda County Emergency Child Care Response Team. They also had the opportunity to talk together about the concerns they share. In appreciation of their work, they will receive “reopening boxes” which include PPE, cleaning supplies, puppets, and a scented candle for self-care.
96% of participants said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the workshop. One participant said, “I liked the diversity of presenters and speakers. Very inspiring. Thank you!”
LaWanda Wesley, Director of Quality Enhancement & Professional Development, and Christie Herrera, Executive Director of Early Learning from Oakland Unified School District kicked off the event. In LaWanda's opening comments, she said, “We know that we’re in the midst of the pandemic of COVID and the pandemic of racism and reconciliation to that. I don’t want to miss the weight that many of us are carrying. None of it is easy but we also know none of it is impossible.” LaWanda also shared, “We do know that we can’t do any of this work alone. This is a space to say what can be, what are the possibilities of what we can solve together?”
With the workshop underway, Lisa Erickson from the Alameda County Public Health Department provided information on safety strategies in child care and on what to do if there is a suspected or actual COVID-19 case involving children, parents and/or staff. She showcased just some of the many resources available for early care and education programs on the Public Health Department’s website.
Kym Johnson, Executive Director of BANANAS, Inc. and member of the Alameda County Emergency Child Care Response Team shared information about available cleaning and PPE supplies. She also introduced the Health Heroes for Child Care, a program that provides nurses to Alameda County early care and education programs.
Charlotte Guinn, a family child care provider, and Kate Shaheed, Executive Director of St. Vincent’s Day Home, offered their advice and learnings from being open over the last few months. They provided real and candid tips for providers and reassured them that providing in-person child care is possible.
Participants then broke into groups, sharing advice and ideas for ways to continue this learning community.
Stay tuned for more information about our first Community Support Zoom meeting in October!
*A group photo of our speakers, interpreters, and Symposium planning team:
“When you set up the environment in the right way, the kids can distance. They love new things. You can make circles and stars on the ground outside, say ‘Charlotte’s in the circle, Bob’s in the square,’ and then do freeze dance. Inside, we took out one of the great big tables and we’ve put in lap desks. When they’re out playing and they come back in and see a lap desk with a puzzle - they’re excited to sit there!” - Charlotte Guinn
“There’s never been a time when self-care was more important. We are all loving people who serve our children and our families. This is a time to think about how we regulate ourselves, what is our practice around resilience. So that you can come to the place where you can recognize your joy. Because that’s the beauty of a preschool classroom, that there’s so much joy.”
- Kate Shaheed