From the Directors: TCS and COVID-19, One Year Later
By Sarah O’Dell, Executive Director and Nicole Shadduck, Education Director
It was one year ago, this week, that TCS closed its doors for its first (and hopefully, last) long term closure. While we have pivoted, adjusted practices and mask up EVERY DAY, we have not changed course. Our primary goal is to be a safe, welcoming, educational, warm place for children and their families. We have done that, but we wanted to share a bit of our journey on how we got to where we are today.
On March 16, 2020, we were open to a small group of children, while families (and teachers) started making plans for what was going to be a 101 day break from in-person care (and learning). We remained unsure from March 16th until March 25th, when Sarah wrote the following to our families,
“We will continue to assess the public health situation in Boise, confer with peer schools, and take into account the guidance of public health officials to determine if we can return to in-person classes sooner. On Monday March 30th, we will convert to virtual operations and distance learning. We do not take this closure lightly. We know the strain that this can put on families and we are keenly aware that distance learning may present significant challenges for some families, especially those with young children. Teachers are exploring ways to create a developmentally appropriate distance learning program where possible and are developing plans that we hope will keep children engaged.”
And we did. We Zoomed. We You-Tubed. We dropped off art bags. We said goodbye to the 2019-2020 school year with a drive-thru parade. But we knew we needed to come back to school just as soon as it seemed safe and logical to do so.
In May of 2020, Sarah and Nicole started planning. We started talking and researching and planning more. At the end of May, it was announced that TCS was coming back. And we did! On June 15, 2020, we swung open the doors, started temperature scanning (the zip zap) and it was “green to go!”
It took some time—3 weeks, to be more exact—for us to feel re-energized and not just plain exhausted to be out in the world again. Groups of more than 3 people just felt like being in the middle of a rock concert—so many people and so much sound. Gradually, it began to feel right again.
Fast forward to August 2020-March 2021…it hasn’t been only hard work and COVID ‘pandemonium’. We have had some great achievements along the way…
*We have started offering full time 2 year old care! We are still working towards expanding our number of toddler classes in 2022-2023.
*We started the year fully enrolled and continue to receive a record number of inquiries for enrollment and tours.
*We welcomed only 3 brand new-to-us teachers to our staff and expect 100% of our staff to return next year.
*We have re-introduced our playground remodel campaign and are almost halfway to our first goal to start construction.
Here’s where we need your help!
We will soon be welcoming new families to our TCS community. Some of you may be moving up in classes and will be learning new routines and getting to know new faces. We are asking you to have a renewed commitment to these same COVID protocols in preparation for developing new routines and helping other families develop their own strong routines.
*TCS Decision Tree-refer to the COVID symptom list and decision tree when deciding to come to school in the morning. Allergy season is upon us and we are happy to problem solve a ‘coming to school’ decision with you, as needed.
*Mask up—everyone who is 3 years old and older need to wear masks in the indoor, common areas, i.e. the hallway.
*One way path—when at TCS, enter through the front door and exit through the breezeway door.
*Do not enter children’s play spaces. Classrooms are for children and teachers only. We must continue to limit the number of people in our classrooms as wearing masks for hours and hours a day is tricky, and hard. Having each classroom function as it’s own unit or pod is the only way we can be lenient with our masking guidelines for children.
*Keep your distance—please keep to the 6 ft. guideline while physically distancing here at TCS..
*Evaluate your outside of school activities. Consider your risk taking while involved in activities outside of your home. Here is the most recent CDC document regarding “Deciding to Go Out”, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/going-out.html
In April, we will update you on the playground and fundraising opportunities. In May, we hope to give you a construction update. Until then, stay safe, stay well, and thank you, we truly are in this together.