Taking Sick Child Policies Seriously in Preschools and Childcares
Mommies and Daddies go to work and little ones need to be taken care of while they are at away. This is the way it is in today’s world. No problem with that… the only problem is finding the right place to leave that little one.
Preschools and Childcare centres are everywhere – so many, that making a choice is sometimes a problem. But how should one make that choice? What are the important things one MUST NOT compromise on? Is it ambience, expensive toys, open area, curriculum or what? I think that the most important factor that a lot of parents (shockingly) don’t even discuss in detail with the centre in question, is their Sick Child Policy.
First, does the centre even have a documented Sick Child Policy? I have found that, sadly, very few preschools and childcares give due importance to their Sick Child Policy, that is if there is a policy in place in the first place. Even if there is a policy in place, it is rarely being strictly followed. What results can be catastrophic.
Here is an example: There are times in the year when diseases like Hand, foot and mouth run rampant. It can occur at any time of year but is most common in the summer and the months just after monsoon. You can imagine that an outbreak of HFM disease is common in preschools & childcares.
As a preschool and childcare company operating centers since 2007, Vidyarambh has a very strict “Sick Child policy” that is clearly described in our Parent Handbooks. Parents are to sign a declaration at the time of admission that they have understood all policies and will adhere to them for the benefit of their child and all other children in that center. The policy very clearly lists out any symptoms that will deem a child unfit to attend preschool/childcare. As standard operating procedure, all children are visually scanned when they come to school for any rashes, discharge from eyes/nose/ears and any fever. If fever exceeds 100 F or if there is any unexplained rash or blisters etc. the parent is asked to take the child home immediately. Only with a clear written permission from a doctor is the child allowed back.
There is more. What if a case of HFM (or another such disease) is reported in our center? Most preschools would worry more about the curriculum gaps or the inconvenience caused to parents, but at Vidyarambh, a strong and firm decision is made purely and truly keeping the children in mind. When we learn that there is a virus of this sort in the air, we immediately alert the parents in advance on the symptoms to look out for. If a case or two is reported in the center, we inform all parents and immediately close the school for the number of gestation days of the virus in question. While all preschools and childcare centers around us are struggling with dwindling attendance and the uncontrolled spread of the virus, we nip it in the bud and totally avoid it from turning into an epidemic. Moreover, while our centers are closed, they are disinfected twice a day for five days to ensure that we are safe when the children come back. Now, that is what a good childcare center is. Wouldn’t you agree?
Meanwhile, what should parents do to cooperate with the school? Wash your hands and your babys hands frequently with soap and water. Teach all family members to wash their hands often. It is especially important to wash your hands after you change the diaper of a child. Do sanitize the toys used by children after play time by washing them in the disinfectant solution of white vinegar or bleach. If your child shows ANY symptoms of epidemic or contagious diseases, Do Not send the child to the school at least for a week till he is fine. If your child is diagnosed with Hand Foot Mouth or any other contagious infection, IMMEDIATELY let the school know.
[FYI: HFM disease is a mild illness caused by a virus Enterovirus. The illness causes little blisters on the hands and feet and in the mouth and sometimes around the buttocks and thighs. The blisters may be sometimes painful. The illness usually doesnt last more than a week or so. It is common among children between the ages of two and six. It is mildly epidemic. Hand, foot and mouth disease is contagious. The child can catch it if someone coughs or sneezes near him, or from contact with saliva or stool, or fluid from the sores of the infected child. If the child catches it, he will be most contagious in the week before the symptoms appear, so it is difficult to anticipate and prevent. It usually takes 3 to 6 days for a child to get symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease after being exposed to the virus]