At the entry way to the temporary daycare at Langley Christian School (LCS), a sign on a table reads “we are so happy you are here.”
On any given day, as many as 20 children come to LCS while their parents battle the COVID-19 outbreak.
As well, five Langley public school are providing day care for 90 children of Tier One essential service workers (ESW), people who work in health/health services, social services, law enforcement, first responders and emergency response.
All have opened their doors in response to a provincial Ministry of Education request for daycare services during the coronavirus crisis.
LCS head of schools Adam Woelders described the reaction to the request as “something people took as a real call to arms.”
While LCS was fortunate to have people with early education certificates and First Aid tickets who are already qualified to run a daycare, it wasn’t as simple as turning over classroom space, Woelders told the Langley Advance Times.
Strict daycare licensing requirements “caused a lot of complexity” and there was the added issues of maintaining proper social distancing and disinfectant measures in the daycare space, Woelders explained.
“We just gutted them of everything but tables and chairs that can be wiped down easily,” he described.
Because the school is relatively close to Langley Memorial Hospital, it offers many parents who work at LMH a convenient place to drop off their kids on route to work, Wielders added.
“We’ve got a number of families where both parents are nurses,” Woelder related.
“We even have a few families who don’t attend our school.”
LCS ESW program manager Harmony Wilson said the school is currently serving more than 20 kids representing 11 different families.
She said the families have told LCS childcare has been a “struggle.”
With the daycare they are “able to stay working, able to sleep when needed after night shifts and stay together as childcare was a struggle and they are able to keep everyone in the same house without the need to farm children out to relatives.”
Wilson said their goal for the children was “a quality program where they are able to experience connections while getting homework done, attending class meetings, free time, outside time, quiet time and so much more in a social distanced but nurturing way.
“It is the least we can do for our community in supporting our local heroes,” Wilson added.
Five public schools in Langley have opened “learning hubs” for children of front line workers.
Four of the five hubs have the capacity, through privately operated day cares on school sites, to support before-and-after-school care for children — Gordon Greenwood Elementary, Uplands Elementary, Fort Langley Elementary and James Hill Elementary, which has produced a online video to show how antiviral measures are being deployed, hosted by principal Kendra Simonetto.
James Kennedy Elementary does not have privately operated before-and-after-school care.
As of Monday, April 20th, approximately 90 children from families with Essential Service Workers have requested support at the Learning Hubs, spokesperson Joanne Abshire advised.
Each family has different needs, some requiring daily support, while others only requesting two to three days per week.
Parents are asked to register in advance before they bring their children.
For more information about the learning hubs, email the school district at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LCS can be contacted at email@example.com.