On Wednesday, September 15, 2021, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will now be required in all state-regulated child care and day care centers in New York for children ages 2 and up, and for all staff and visitors. Masks will also be needed at state-regulated residential and congregate day programs.
We at L.E.A.P. certainly empathize with members of the community, clients, and especially Head Start / Early Head Start parents during this challenging time for everyone.
Many of the staff at L.E.A.P. and L.E.A.P. Head Start / Early Head Start are parents of young children ourselves, and so we understand the challenge this presents. Several members of the leadership team at L.E.A.P. Head Start / Early Head Start no longer have young children but have been working with them here at our Centers in Washington County for over 20 years. We understand that each and every child and family that we serve is a unique individual with unique needs. We work tirelessly to ensure that infants, young children, and families get ready for elementary school. We teach children social and coping skills to be successful at home and out in the world. Those goals are personal to each and every staff member. In addition, L.E.A.P. is obligated to follow all mandates that are set forth by the state and federal government. We have been continuously updating our policies and procedures monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily during the pandemic to comply with New York State and Federal mandates. All centers and program operations are regulated and reviewed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services-Administration for Children and Families – Office of Head Start. Even when we worked remotely, our program never stopped providing services.
L.E.A.P. Head Start / Early Head Start staff will ensure that children will go outdoors daily, and if children need a mask break, we will provide one. In accordance with the mandate, masks are not required during meals, snacks, and quiet time. We are trying our best to implement the mandate in as developmentally appropriate a way as possible.
We understand that the new mandate could be a new challenge for parents as well as teachers, and we are here to answer questions or provide support via phone or email. We strive every day to find resources for our families that will help them at all times, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following are some resources to help teach children how to adjust to wearing a mask at school.