Reopening & The Future of Early Childhood Education
It's me! Captain Cresthill. Below, is an important update that went out on today, May 18th to our Cresthill Families and Friends on our email list.
There are some very important information and I hope you will find them helpful.
Dear Cresthill Families & Friends:
First, please allow me to thank you for your kind support, donations and words of encouragement. I am so humbled and so touched by your giving spirit and our Cresthill community.
Today, I hope to update you on where Cresthill Academy stands in regards to:
· Re-Opening of Schools;
· A Fully Online Remote Learning Preschool Program; and
· The Future of the Early Childhood Education field in a post pandemic world.
It is important to note that as the writing of this email, we DO NOT have any information on an actual childcare center re-opening date from the State of New Jersey. We are simply planning ahead with the limited information to try to be as prepared as possible.
I ask that you please bare with me, as this is going to be a long and content heavy update.
Our leadership team and I have a plan for re-opening the schools with the appropriate safety, sanitation and operations procedures - these procedures and practices will be in place for the first 90 days of school reopening and will be called PHASE I. Since information regarding COVID19 is changing by the day, we will adapt and change as needed during Phase I.
We designed the PHASE I plan based on CDC recommendations, existing regulations in place and being practice at our East Hanover Essential Employee Childcare, and continued design and redesign as more information becomes available to us. Our families should take some comfort in knowing that our East Hanover Essential Employee’s Childcare program has been operating since April 1st without incident. As such, it appears that the policies and protocols in place appears to be effective even as our East Hanover Center operated during the peak of the COVID19 curve.
In addition to existing New Jersey Essential Childcare regulations, we also reviewed the State of Oregon’s Childcare Center Reopening guidelines, along with the State of Connecticut's summer camp re-opening guidelines to start try to piece together what New Jersey's recommendations on grouping and class size may look like when we are able to reopen.
Cresthill Academy's PHASE I plans are drafted and we will be sharing that with our other leadership teams, healthcare parents at East Hanover, and teaching teams for feedback and suggestions. We hope to be able to share the PHASE I Plans with you sometime next week once it has been approved by our leadership, healthcare parents and teaching teams.
Again, please allow me to finish by saying that we DO NOT have any information beyond what everyone else knows/hears from Gov. Murphy’s daily briefings, which as of now, is still stating that all schools are to remain closed through the rest of June.
Remote Learning - Cresthill At Home
As we look to reopening, we want to be respectful of families and staff who may choose to remain home; or the possibility that there may not be enough spots as childcare centers will likely be reopening with reduced capacity.
With that in-mind, we are designing a comprehensive Cresthill At Home Remote Learning Program based on best practices for online learning, developmentally appropriate screen times for children, my previous experience as a consultant in the Online Higher Education Group of Eduventures, our current Anchors Aweigh Remote Learning headed by Ms. Belle, and our Curriculum Kits headed by Ms. Joan and Ms. Monika.
To give you an idea of our Cresthill At Home program, here is a sneak peak, please keep in mind that this is still in the design phase and are subject to change:
· Daily LIVE AM Circle Time with class size of approximately 12-15 children in the same age group to encourage social interactions;
· Daily LIVE small group (3-5 children) instructional time with the teacher;
· Daily Pre-recorded sessions to support LIVE small group;
· Daily LIVE PM Circle Time;
· Weekly LIVE 1:1 family and student instructional and mentoring time;
· Monthly Curriculum Box with all learning materials to be delivered or picked up from various locations integrated with the Cresthill At Home teaching model;
· Schedule of a home-school preschool day;
· All of the above will be offered in a reduced monthly tuition.
· The Cresthill At Home program is designed for children 3 years and older - as research shows prolonged screen time learning is not appropriate for younger learners and Cresthill Academy will always prioritize what is the best for our learners.
The benefit of this Cresthill At Home Remote Learning Program is to provide an at-home preschool experience for our families who are able to participate while providing some of our Cresthill staff members who may not be able to return to the physical space of Cresthill Academy to teach – thus this option will also provide another livelihood for our beloved teaching teams.
We want to be respectful of the safety, well-being and continued education of all our Cresthill children and community while offering Early Childhood Education teachers an opportunity to work from home when possible.
Future of Early Childhood Education
As witnessed during the past months, this pandemic has exposed the weak links in many aspects of our society, from healthcare to childcare, to interrupted shipping, supply chain, transport logistics, and more.
Through these experiences, I am further galvanized in believing that we can no longer be silent about the financial burdens of a quality early education program to be shouldered only by families and childcare centers.
We need to start speaking to our elected officials about a true partnerships between the government, childcare providers, families and even employers on how we must work together to design a financially sustainable model that will provide good-paying jobs to early childhood educators without significantly increasing out-of-pocket costs to families and to childcare centers. While I don’t have a plan for that in place, however I do want to get the conversation going with all of our families and friends – let us all start thinking about who we know and who we can petition to get conversations going about the right to a quality AND affordable early education.
Despite the shortcomings revealed by this pandemic, I still believe we live in one of the greatest democracies in the world, a place where the American Dream and brighter futures are still possible – particularly as an immigrant child who witnessed my parents build their American Dream from scratch while juggling multiple jobs (including a paper route at dusk), us living in someone’s basement, and at one point having to dumpster dive for food, all without taking any government subsidy - to today, seeing their daughter leading a business that is making a positive difference in the world.
So if you want to join me in making the world a better place by being the change you want to see in the world, then please share this message with your friends and families so that we can get the conversations started and hopefully, get those messages to our elected officials so that they will consider and remember the importance of the Early Childhood Education field as they work to rebuild our country.
Until then, I look forward to reopening and rebuilding Cresthill Academy together and hope to see you all very soon, whether it is in-person or online.
Be safe and be well.
With Hope, Gratitude and Ardor,