|The Arcola East Preschool has announced it won’t be opening its doors for the 2020-2021 school year due to all the COVID-19 guidelines it would have to follow.
Chantel De La Sablonnier, the preschool’s director, said the decision didn’t come easy.
“It was a very hard decision to be able to make, especially because there’s a disappointment factor to it,” she said. “The preschool is something we’re very proud of in the way that it’s run, so being able to let the parents know that we really are thinking of their safety and their children’s safety, we’re hopeful the members of the community will understand.”
She said the changes they would have to make would impact both their financial status, as well as the experience the children would have.
“We would have had to reduce our class sizes, we would no longer be able to have parent volunteers in place and really just reducing the quality of our programming,” she said.
The school would be required to follow provincial guidelines and municipal guidelines, since the facility is owned by the city.
“We took all of that into consideration,” De La Sablonnier said. “Not that the community association is trying to make a profit necessarily because that’s not what we do, but also running at a huge deficit with the additional safety requirements and cleaning requirements that are being put in place.”
The school is hoping to reopen its doors for the 2021-2022 school year.
OTHER SCHOOLS PREPARING
With some preschools unable to reopen, others are seeing an increase in demand.
Preschool Fine Arts Co-op is used to having a waitlist, but this year it’s even longer than usual.
“The waitlist has increase and I, over the past couple of weeks, have seen more of an influx of inquiries into our preschool,” Jodi Sobool, the teacher coordinator of the preschool, said.
Its classes run out of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, so the school must follow provincial guidelines as well as the guidelines the gallery has in place.
Sobool said there’s been a lot of unknowns, which makes it challenging to prepare for classes.
“Getting our parents updated on all that information so that we can move forward with our classes in September is probably our biggest challenge,” Sobool said.
She said they will increase cleaning practices, children will have all their own art supplies instead of sharing, personal items will be kept separated and the classroom layout will be adjusted to allow for physical distancing.
The school has always had classes of 14. The provincial guidelines are capped at 15, so there won’t be changes to class sizes.
Orchard Preschool also won’t be faced with the task of cutting class sizes, as the small school only sees eight children per class.
Amanda Benesh, the owner and only teacher at Orchard Preschool, said she’s also seen some more inquiries about enrolment as other schools announce that they won’t be opening.
She said she didn’t have to change a lot to prepare for opening, but there were still obstacles to overcome.
“The unknown right now is going to be what am I doing in between [classes]?” She said. “What cleaning measures am I going to take?”
She said there will be adjustments to activities the students are doing. She’ll also be adjusting pick up and drop off plans, mask use for parents and she’ll be asking students to stay home if they’re sick.
“It’s just about respect. Respecting everybody so that we can keep everybody safe,” Benesh said.