L.E.A.P. is so grateful to Reporter/Anchor Kumi Tucker and the WNYT NewsChannel 13 team for stopping by our Head Start site on Dix Avenue in Hudson Falls on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 to speak with Executive Director Traci Ross! Kumi spoke with Traci about how L.E.A.P. has implemented additional safety protocols and services to continue to assist the residents of Washington County during the COVID 19 pandemic.
This story focused on how L.E.A.P.’s programs have been affected by the pandemic. Traci shared that L.E.A.P. employees are essential workers, and the impressive way that our organization was able to pivot to provide many of their services remotely, or safely with enhanced safety procedures. Throughout the pandemic, L.E.A.P. has continued to provide services to Washington County individuals and families through our Food Pantry, Emergency Assistance, Community Garden, Summer Youth Employment Program, and Employment Counseling. Head Start and Early Head Start families received and continue to receive a full array of supports and education including meal delivery, hygiene supplies, educational materials for remote lessons, health and developmental screenings, child assessments, parenting resources, virtual parent groups, case management, mental health services, parent conferences, and access to community resources.
In August, our Head Start Program Director Patricia Salvarezza sent out a letter to all Head Start parents explaining that Head Start / Early Head Start studied the guidance from multiple states and federal sources including the Center for Disease Control, NYS Department of Health, NYS Office of Children and Family Services, and the Office of Head Start. Based on those recommendations, comprehensive safety protocols were implemented in all five L.E.A.P. Head Start sites in Washington County.
Here are just some examples of our extensive safety protocols at our five Head Start sites:
- Social Distancing will be provided to the greatest extent possible.
- Staff are required to take their temperature and submit a certification form to verify their health status each day. Staff will wear face masks at all times while in the presence of children.
- Parents will participate in a daily entry health screening upon arrival at school or prior to the child boarding the bus. The child’s temperature will be taken with a touch free thermometer. Children who pass the screening will be escorted inside.
- Each Center-based classroom has a reduced number of children based on the size of the classroom, for a maximum group size of 10 children.
- Children and families who do not receive a center-based slot will receive services remotely, and parents may request remote services.
- Nap mats will be arranged at least 6 feet apart. All nap bedding will be provided and laundered daily. Nap mats will be sanitized daily before and after rest time.
- Meals will be plated and served rather than family-style.
- Visitors are highly restricted in all centers and no parent volunteers are permitted at this time.
- Daily cleaning, disinfecting, and hygiene protocols are in effect for all centers.
In addition, Traci told Kumi that L.E.A.P. Transportation Services never stopped during the pandemic, to ensure that our clients could attend life-saving treatments like dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation. Our Food Pantry has continued to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days for each member of the family, but has now increased availability to twice per month, as well as added the option for delivery of food, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies to those facing transportation challenges. We continue to offer Emergency Assistance to Washington County residents to avoid utility shut down, eviction, pay first month’s rent, or cover costs of prescription drugs. Our Employment Services are more important than ever due to the fact that the unemployment rate in Washington County went from approximately 4% in July 2019 to almost 11% in July of this year.
This story was featured on the live broadcasts at 4:15pm, 5:03pm, and 6:06pm, and can also be viewed here: