Questions / Answers regarding FUMP's Covid-19 procedures
Standard Operations at FUMP
Our early childhood care school is divided into 2 categories. There is a childcare hallway and a preschool hallway. The Childcare Hallway has 8 classrooms with 2 assigned adults in each room. Each room has children under the age of 24 months. The Preschool Hallway also has 8 classrooms. Four rooms have 2-year-olds with 2 adults per room. The 3-year-old classrooms have 1 full time teacher. The 3-year-old classrooms have a floater that will “float” in and out of rooms and aid the teacher with projects, classroom behavior, or lessons. Pre-K (4 year old class) has a certified morning teacher with a full-time aide who works 7:30-4:30.
Normally, FUMP is open 10 hours (7:30-5:30). On a normal day, the 1st shift arrives around 7:15, takes a lunch around noon and finishes out the shift by 4:30. There is a second shift that arrives around 8:30, takes a lunch break around 1 and finishes their shift at 5:30. The 3-year-old classrooms have one teacher and they do work the entire 10 hours we are open, so we stagger their arrival and departure. First shift for 3-year-old teachers begins at 7:30 and ends at 4:30. The second shift begins at 8:00 and ends at 5:00.
There are 39 people on staff, and we can hire no more or we must offer everyone insurance. We cannot afford to do that. 50 people is the legal requirement for offering insurance and our staff is included with the church’s staff.
On a typical day there are about 2-3 people absent. These people have asked off ahead of time and we have prepared for their absence. Usually someone (or 2) will call in the day of and will not be able to report to work (they are sick, their family member is sick, their car broke down, an unexpected emergency, they have a Dr.’s appt or have a school function they forgot about and need to leave for part of the day, or they get sick here at work and have to go home). So, during the day, we lose about 2 employees on a good day or 4 on a bad day.
Combining at the end of the day is a practice that is common in childcare centers who remain open longer than 9 hours a day. Class sizes begin to diminish around 4:30 in both hallways. We see a lot of combining with 3- and 4-year-old children than we do with younger children, simply because we do have 2 adults per classroom in 12 of 16 classrooms. When the children are combined, they have the same quality care, just in a different room, or with a different teacher, or with different classmates. Combining classes helps FUMP stay open without paying overtime or risking employee burnout.
If a childcare class has an employee absent, FUMP looks at the number of children in each age-leveled class for the potential to combine. If there are 2 children who are 14 months old and another class has 3 children who 17 months old, we will combine those children at 4:15 in one classroom. We also look at the legal age requirement. For example, there can be as many as 8 toddlers with 1 adult. If there are 9 toddlers, there is a requirement of 2 adults.
The preschool classes combine too. If one of the 2-year-old teachers are absent we will have to combine in the morning for an hour (7:30-8:30) or in the afternoon from (4:30-5:30). 3-year-old classes have 2 teachers available when we open so all the 3s are combined in the morning in one of 2 classrooms. The 3s begin to combine at the end of the day after the first shift leaves. The Pre-K 4s class combines with the 3s since the aide leaves at 4:30. All the preschool plays in shifts outside or in the gym and eventually combines in the media center at 5 pm.
Why is FUMP closing at 4:30?
When classes combine at the end of the day, there is a higher chance of viral/bacterial infections spreading among children and employees. By closing at 4:30, we can keep our classes isolated and help reduce the spread of infections.
Can parents willing to take the risk sign a waiver to combine kids until 5:30 pickup?
If 1 child tests positive for covid, all children who were combined, AND the teachers (if not vaccinated for 2 weeks) and children in those classrooms will have to quarantine for 14 days. This heightened number of individuals required to quarantine all at once would flag our facility and the health department would require FUMP to completely shut down for an undisclosed amount of time.
Why is FUMP’s isolation/quarantine different than other schools?
FUMP is an early childhood care center. All early childhood centers, private and public, are monitored by the state of Louisiana. Mandated by the state, FUMP is required to follow the CDC rules verbatim or face the risk of being shut down. Isolation is a strong suggestion. When a child, employee, or classroom has covid, FUMP is required to report the case(s) to the state and provide details on what we are doing to prevent the spread of the virus. This report is filed and remains on record. The health unit takes into consideration all we are doing to prevent the spread, how fast covid numbers rise within our facility, and whether we have enough employees to cover children safely when considering a shut-down.
How much money is FUMP costing families by closing an hour earlier?
For the month of August this amounted to $2.63-$2.84 an hour which is about $60 a month.
Breakdown: [Tuition / # of days (average is 20) / 10 (hours open)]
Tuition pays for FUMP employees to work 80 hours per pay period. While closing early, employees are still working 80 hours and receiving a full paycheck every 2 weeks. Since we are unable to offer health benefits, we offer stability as a benefit our employees can rely on during this rough time of need.
Why can’t you pay people overtime pay?
Working 10 hours with children is exhausting and requires a lot of patience. Most of our staff are parents themselves and leave to take care of their own families and children. With limitations on the number of staff who can help, we run the risk of employee burn-out and turn over.
What are FUMP’s goals towards moving away from closing early?
FUMP is looking for answers as well. The FUMP board of directors continuously brainstorms for creative ways FUMP can remain open to 5:30pm. Due to state regulations and requirements, FUMP has been prohibited from incorporating some of the ideas that have been brought forward. FUMP’s intention is to go back to 5:30 as soon as it is safe to combine all classes again.
When will it be safe for all classes and employees to go back to 5:30?
The epidemiologist for Region 6 health unit (this includes Rapides Parish) suggests a covid positivity rate of 5%. 5% is our marker for closing at 5:30 in conjunction with making sure we have enough staff. https://ldh.la.gov/coronavirus is the website we use to check the data. If you would also like to watch this data, click here and click on Rapides Parish. The current report for percent positivity is renewed every Wednesday.
Sometimes a parent has looked on the cameras and it has been past 4:30 and there is no one in there cleaning up. Isn’t the last hour was used to clean?
Sometimes parents can’t pick their child up at 4:30 so they will come before then. This means there may be times when a room is clear before 4:30 and the employee is able to clean. The employees are still working full-time. When an employee is scheduled to leave at 5:30, they are finished with their duties and usually don’t stay past 5:30.
If we are trying to isolate, then why are there so many children together at the entrance during drop off and pick up?
According to the CDC, contamination takes place after 15 minutes of close contact. Everyone is required to wear a mask when entering our facility. Individuals who are picking up/dropping off children are in and out. If there is visiting, it isn’t by FUMP staff. Also, parents have the option to stand outside of the building and have a FUMP staff member bring their child to them. If this is something you are interested in, please ask – our staff is happy to do this.
Why are there floaters going in and out of rooms if the point of closing early is to isolate?
During a lunch shift, the baby rooms are most difficult because everyone is hungry and tired at the same time. If we see an employee struggling to keep babies happy, content, fed, clean, and having a dry diaper - we are absolutely going to help. Floaters are wearing a mask and remain in the doorway, when possible, to minimize contact. The caregiver/child ratio for baby rooms (12 months and under) was changed to 1 caregiver / 5 children. Our infant rooms have 6 babies and therefore require an extra adult during a lunchbreak.