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Schools & Daycares are Closed Due to Corona Virus, Now What Do We Do?

Childcare Aware of America has created an interactive map that is really helpful in identifying how each state is managing child care centers during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They have amassed a listing of state childcare closures due to COVID-19.

Although many states have allowed for daycare centers to stay open, identifying them as an essential service, many have closed their doors.  And of the locations that remain open, the attendance is down.  To date, we’re hearing reports of around 25%-30% of enrolled children are still attending.

So, with your kids staying home, and your doors may even be closed, what’s an owner/operator to do?  Childcare closings due to COVID-19 don’t mean you should stop working on your business.

First and foremost, stay safe and only go out as needed or allowed.

But if the school is empty, or nearly empty, why not get a jump on a few maintenance issues?

Eventually, parents will go back to work.

Even if they continue to work from home, they are quickly realizing that you cannot do two jobs at once, and something will have to give.  It’s not realistic to think you can care for your children full-time while working from home.  The mere sound of them in the room next door, the interruptions for a snack every 30 minutes, and listening to them playing (or fighting) in the distance, is enough to keep a once organized employee from focusing on the task at hand for their employers.

Children will come back to child care centers.

And when they do, parents are going to want to see that everything has been cleaned to a whole new level.  The slight hint of Clorox in the air might even make them feel confident that all is well and there are no lingering germs nearby.

Clean out the cobwebs and the closets.

Once you’ve finished cleaning out the closets at home, turn and look at the closets at your school.  Odds are you organized them the day you moved in and everything has been such a rush of adrenaline since that you haven’t had time to even think about tackling a project that size.

Now is a great time to jump in there and color code everything!  Come on, you know you want to.  What’s the point of having jugs of finger paint if you can’t organize them by color!  Grab a label maker and go to town!

Are you still paying staff even though no children are coming in?  Send the most organized people from your team to their own closets, or to their own classroom cabinets, and have them clean everything out and then put it all back clean and organized.

Just make sure not to have staff interact and socialize together.  Keep them each in their own room and never have more people in your building than the local government recommends or allows.

To do this successfully, maybe what that means is that you unlock the school, and prop open the classroom door from the outside so they can enter directly from the playgrounds.  When they are finished they can leave through the playgrounds.  No one will come in contact with each other while your day care is closed due to corona virus.

Having tasks in the interim will give your staff a sense of purpose and accomplishment now, when having a distraction is a good thing.  And it will give them a sense of ownership when the school re-opens.

Its a win-win, despite childcare closings due to COVID-19!

A fresh coat of paint might do the trick.

You’re sitting at home with not much to do but worry all day.

Why not busy yourself with some painting at your school?

The key here is to change the colors of the walls so that when everyone comes back they immediately recognize that there’s new paint on the wall.  It will give your families a piece of mind that not only has the facility been cleaned, but it has also been repainted.  What bleach doesn’t kill, paint will cover up.

Since money and time are unknowns at this point, I would take it one room at a time.  Start with the Reception and Hallway first.  They are the high-traffic areas that get the most exposure to all of your families and staff.  After that, move on to the older kids classrooms, followed by younger classrooms.  The logic here being that the older kids touch the walls and surfaces more that the younger kids do.  That way you’re making the most impact possible at the potentially dirtiest areas.

For more inspiration, check out interior design ideas at ChildcareDesign.com.

We’ve also put together a booklet of color combinations that work well for daycare centers as well as any children’s environments.


New rugs, new look.

Another particularly dirty area that parents might fixate on are the floors.

Most flooring in day cares are cleanable, so cleaning the floors thoroughly is a no-brainer.  But what about all those throw rugs.  You know, the circle time rug, the reading rug, the little rug with streets and buildings all on it for the kids playing with cars.  They have all been coughed and sneezed on.  Your kids may not have had COVID, but they do all cough and sneeze occasionally, and parents are going to be more concerned than ever about cleanliness.

If you have the ability, you should consider new rugs altogether.  And similarly to the idea of a different paint color so that parents recognize that it’s fresh and clean.  Pick new rugs that look different than the ones you had before. 

During the stress of worldwide health issues, everyone needs more calm in their lives.  Even children.  I would argue, especially children.  Instead of picking rugs with lots of high contrast graphics, go for something more simple and easy on the eyes.  Rugs that are pastel or neutral colors with less contrast.

There’s so many educational toys, imaginary play, dress-up, reading, blocks, cars, shelves, that the classroom will look fun and lively even if you pare down the rug graphics.

Here are a few examples of ideas to think about:

Baby Rug, Padded Toddler Rug, Reading Rug, Train Rug, Cars Rug, and a Rubber-backed Play Rug.

Simple rugs with less color contrast will feel more residential, more like home away from home, and therefore, more comforting to the children, parents, and your staff.

Marketing makes the world go round.

If updating your school while being closed due to COVID-19 in your state is not an option, hop online and get to work marketing.

Have each staff member send you a weekly update and use that to email your families and keep everyone posted.  Treat your families like you would treat family.  If anyone is in need, organize the entire group to do what they can to help.  Keep in touch and keep top of mind so that they are not lured away by competition.

If you maintain your website, update it now.  Replace older photos of your school, write new articles that would be helpful to parents, publish a daily activity for stay-at -home families, include updates of what’s happening around the local community.

Reach out to parents and ask for Facebook and Google recommendations.  Now’s a great time to acknowledge that you were too busy to bother before COVID-19, but now more than ever, social proof and recommendations are vital to everyone’s future business.

Social proof is especially important in the child care and private school industries because since so much of your marketing is word of mouth.

Let me also point out that not all recommendations have to come from families that have their children enrolled with you.  You can ask anyone to offer you a recommendation.

All of your service providers can acknowledge that they enjoy doing business with you.

All of your staff can acknowledge that they like to work for you.

Even your friends and neighbors can acknowledge that you love what you do and are a knowledgeable and enthusiastic owner/principal/director.

Bottom Line

This virus is strong, and our immune systems to it our week, but we can still work to improve and promote our businesses for the time being.  Childcare closings due to COVID-19 will not be permanent, so let’s prepare for when they re-open.

-This article was written by Rebecca Calbert. 

Rebecca is a licensed architect with over 30 years of experience.  She owns and operates an architectural firm, Calbert Design Group,  and educates her clients through the commercial real estate development process with online content at SaveOnBuilding.com.  Rebecca’s “purpose” is to educate small business owners and protect them from what they don’t know.

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