I have heard it said that those of us providing child care during Covid-19 need to remember that this is emergency care and that it isn’t going to look like the ‘regular care’ we would normally provide (pre-pandemic). There was a feeling that because we were in emergency mode that this would effect the quality and that we as ECE’s were to be just managing day to day… that somehow in this time of Covid-19, that it was ok to function at a lesser level of quality…but what does that quality look like in these new times?
My thoughts and opinions comes from a place of relative safety. I have not been effected by this very much at all. I am located in a province with very low numbers of cases, my program continues to run and children can attend if their families choose but as I talk to others and read and listen to various blogs and videos, I can certainly see care is looking very different in different parts of the world.
In some child care programs children 2 and up as well as staff are being instructed to wear MASKS! They have no choice! I have had to seriously reflect on how I feel about this. My initial gut reaction is that it is awful and I could never do this but after I met and listened to Cori Berg tell her story, I had to pause and really think about this. She is located in Texas and her program cares for children who’s families are front lines of the fight of this virus in her county. Their children need somewhere to go and they too are entitled to what we talk about being quality care. Cori has kept her program open and is trying her hardest to continue to provide these families the best care she can within the rules and regulations that have been set out by the people that oversee her program. I can see her heart and her weariness of all the work she has to do everyday when she speaks. (check out Cori’s page and videos of her journey on facebook at ECE form the Heart with Cori Berg)
When I look at the new children of ESW I have, I see children who have been moved from programs they know, caregivers they have grown to trust and from children they have build friendships with to my program which is completely new to them. They now need to get to know and trust me, learn about my environment, navigate the different expectations I have here, and meet and build relationships with new kids. This is not easy for us as adults, think about how hard it must be for these new little ones in our care. I have one family who has move to 2 different programs since their own closed. These kids have had to adapt even more. I believe I need to make sure when they arrive each morning I am ready; I am ready to accept whatever the day brings, I am ready to support and meet each child wherever they are that morning.
I know there is so much to worry about as an ECE in a program these days; sanitizing, hand washing, PPE’s, masks, all the guidelines and rules that we now need to be following. We are under a great deal of stress ourselves cleaning the environment and worrying about our children’s safety as well as our own and then the children in our care need us. So after we cleaned and sterilized the toys and the environment and cared for our children the best we can , we go to bed exhausted and then get up the next day to do it all over again!
There is so much that has changed so quickly in our world, how do we go forward providing quality care…and what is quality in a pandemic? I thought I had all the answers but as I take the time to listen to others, all I have are more questions. I have been able to be a part of some challenging conversations that have given me a new perspective, the other side. The conversations have not been easy for everyone around the ‘table’ but they have been respectful. With today’s atmosphere and people jumping on those who have differing opinions and only surrounding ourselves with those who believe the same as we do, this has been a wonderful experience. Those at this table are able to listen, really listen to each other and see another’s point of view and challenges. It is not an all or nothing situation. I feel blessed to be able to be a part of this group. I know I have grown because of it.
So do I have an answer to what is quality in times of a pandemic? No. (but I still have some opinions) I do still believe children deserve quality care in times of a pandemic but my idea of what quality looks like has possibly changed… just a little.