Worries about how to explain social distancing and how to support children with special needs are among the concerns for childcare providers as they prepare to reopen under very new circumstances in the coming weeks.
Childcare facilities across Cork, which have been closed since March 12, are set to reopen in the coming weeks as part of the Government’s phased reopening plan.
Dr Wendy Oke, a Cork expert in early years education and care, has revealed that many childcare providers are trying to learn as much as possible ahead of reopening to ensure that social distancing guidelines are adhered to and children are safe.
She said that many are also concerned about what to tell children and how best to keep them safe in this uncertain time.
Dr Oke is the founder of TeachKloud, an online application to help reduce paperwork in the early years field and ensure practitioners have more time to spend with children.
TeachKloud recently hosted a free webinar on Covid-19 and early childhood services to offer practical guidance for managers and practitioners from a practising lawyer and early childhood expert. Dr Oke said the webinar revealed concerns within the sector.
“The response we received was amazing,” she said. “We had over 1,800 registrations and 250 people on a waiting list.
“I believe that this shows the willingness of early-childhood providers to learn as much as they can during this pandemic so that they can give children the best possible learning opportunities upon reopening.
“Early childhood services are more worried about children, their families and how Covid-19 is affecting children’s learning and development than they are about themselves.”
During the webinar, the majority of providers were uncertain about supporting children with additional needs.
“They also wondered how they would explain ‘pods’, ‘social distancing’ and other buzzwords now synonymous with Covid-19 to young children,” said Dr Oke. “They were worried about funding their services during this time with reduced numbers of children.
“The biggest concern was what to do to reduce the risk of Covid-19 and what to do after a confirmed case.”
TeachKloud has been offering free webinars and has also been updating its new compliance and management app, set to launch in August.
“Our app will support early childhood services in doing risk assessments, cleaning schedules, instant messaging for parents and practitioners to increase social distancing, visual and temperature checks, updating their policies, accident checks and support them in complying with regulations,” said Dr Oke.