There are so many good articles being shared across the internet and great memes and GIFs as we all need a laugh, but the one that really resonates with me right now calls for teachers to make a billion dollars. I am currently writing this with my daughter sitting next to me in her Google Classroom, my husband on a Zoom call, and my three-year-old running through the house with a large dump truck. In fifteen minutes, I will be on a Zoom call, my daughter will need to switch to her reading assignment, and my son will either want to continue to run through the house with his dump truck, want to sit in my lap, or ask for a snack. Our house is not very big so you can imagine all the noise. In another life, I taught ESL in Henderson County Schools and I can assure you that no amount of student teaching could have prepared me for what we are asking of our teachers. Even the instant changing of clothes when you get home from a kindergarten classroom during peak flu and stomach bug time after being sneezed on (and more), is not on the same level as the germ prevention measures we are all experiencing now.
These are unprecedented times as unemployment rates rise, service industries reduce hours, and we hear about shortages of supplies. Child care staff, educators, grocery clerks, and other previously underappreciated roles are now being recognized for what they are – mission critical. Child care in particular is interwoven into all aspects of life. Without available care, people are unable to work, unable to earn income, and many children are missing out on two meals and a snack.
Child care centers are receiving mixed messages as some people ask them to close while others, like the state, are begging them to stay open. Early childhood educator’s occupational risks are increasing daily, but their low hourly rate is not reflecting that. As a Child Care Resource and Referral program, Children & Family Resource Center is hearing from the providers in our community who cannot get access to things like bleach, paper towels, and toilet paper, and delivering these things. Handwashing has always been a priority in the early childhood classroom and now even that isn’t enough. There are no more shared pens for parents to sign in, drop-off is at the door, hand sanitizer is out at every corner, and toys and books are being deep cleaned daily. Many centers are closing their doors for an undetermined amount of time alongside the other small businesses in our community. If you know a child care provider, add them to your list of people you’re sending virtual hugs to. The early child care providers of the world are critical and the ripple effect we feel in their absence is great.
There is hope in all this though. We live in a community that takes care of their people. Our school system is not only continuing to educate our children remotely but feeding them as well. Restaurants are offering free meals to children, food pantries are broadening their reach, people are sharing supplies and our community is reaching out to help in ways that we didn’t realize we needed help.
We are so thankful for all the healthcare employees, first responders, educators, food service, and grocery store employees helping on the front lines. As we all navigate this new territory, please know that we hear your stories, and are holding you and your families in our hearts with so much gratitude.
We are still connecting to families virtually and are here for you. Visit our Facebook page and check out our new Circle of Parents support groups open to any parent or caregiver needing support right now (basically all of them).
Children & Family Resource Center has a webpage designed to share all sorts of activities from working on motor skills, to fighting boredom, and ways to help talk to your child in these times when we’re all feeling a little more anxious. Visit: https://www.childrenandfamily.org/covid19resources/ for these tools.
We are looking forward to seeing all your faces in person again soon.