Childcare Reopening Communications Plan (With Templates)

As you prepare to reopen your center, there are so many moving parts involved and it can be hard to know if you remembered everything! As someone who loves when the work is already done for me, I wanted to compile some templates for you so that you can be at ease with communication. It is so important to keep families “in the loop” as much as possible, so hopefully these email templates help you!

1. Start With an Update on Reopening

This is always helpful. It does not need to be very detailed, but it can just let parents know that you are in the planning stages and that you will be sending them more information as it comes in. This initial communication will set parents at ease knowing you are making necessary preparations.

Here is a sample letter you can send:

Hi families,

I know we are in such a strange time! With the next phase approaching, we are planning to open [CENTER NAME] on [REOPENING DATE]. We have been working hard to prepare the classrooms and adapt to CDC guidelines, and we are confident that you will be happy with what we have set in place.
Later next week you will receive information on reopening, including a new handbook, and what to expect.

Will things be the same? No, but I am confident that this "new normal” will be safe, strong, and something our children will thrive in. I speak on behalf of all [CENTER NAME] staff when I say that we are excited to have you, we are ready to have you, and we look forward to Summer 2020 with you.

You’ll receive an email with detailed plans by [DATE]. :)

Have a wonderful weekend! Stay safe!

Thanks,

[YOUR NAME]

2. Send an Initial Survey to Parents

Send a survey to see how they are doing during this emergency closing. This is a survey that is just to gauge where they are in their comfort levels with returning in the near future.

Here is the communication email for that along with links and questions to include in your survey. You can surveymonkey.com to create the survey since it’s so easy and free!

Hi families,

Here is a link [INSERT LINK HERE] for an easy parent survey we created to gauge how things are going for you and what your plans are for the near future. I'm asking for 100% participation. One survey per household please. It will take you under 5 minutes to complete, so I ask that you please do this before Friday.

Thank you,

[YOUR NAME]

Here are example survey questions for you to use:

  1. What is your child’s name?
  2. Since we have been closed, in what ways have we been helpful to you? (YouTube channel, distant learning kits, Zoom sessions, story parade, etc.)
  3. How can we support you?
  4. On a scale from 1-10, how is your child doing emotionally?
  5. When do you plan to send your child back to school? (as soon as doors open, in the fall, not returning, unsure)
  6. Are you in need of anything? Please specify (groceries, pick up prescriptions, etc.)
  7. Would you be interested in a virtual parent group with our director?
  8. Once you get more information about reopening and can give the solid plan, send another communication email through HiMama letting parents know the plan. Make sure you have some kind of action step for parents to do so that you know the email has been read and received. 

3. Send More Details

When you get more specific information when it comes to reopening from the local government and licensing organizations, then you’ll want to give that information to families.

Here is a sample email you can send:

Hi families,

We have been working really hard getting prepared and ready for you to come back to [CENTER NAME]. I understand that everyone is in a "different boat." Some of you are ready to drop your kids off the second we open (You may be camping outside of our building right now!). Some of you want to wait to see how it goes, while others of you want to keep your children home until the fall. I respect where everyone is, no matter what category your family falls in.

I have created an updated parent handbook that is COVID-19 specific. I am attaching it to this message. It lays out all of the new procedures we will be implementing in order to open on [OPENING DATE]. These procedures will remain in place until we enter the [NEXT PHASE] as stated by the governor. No one knows when this will happen, so we will be very cautious in how we operate until then and beyond.

**** It is EXTREMELY important that I know exactly who will be returning when we reopen. Some of you have emailed/texted/called, some of you filled out the survey, but I really ask that 100% of you fill out the following form to allow for me to know where you stand. Before filling out this form, please read through the Handbook thoroughly. ****

Here is the link to that form: [INSERT LINK/SEE #4 FOR SURVEY QUESTIONS]
 
**THIS FORM IS DUE NO LATER THAN [DATE]**

In order to properly staff our classrooms on [DATE], we really need to know who is planning to return. Our plan is to have the same teachers with the same kids every day. Our hours will be shortened in the interim to assure that the same staff are with the kids, and each classroom will be a "family unit" that will practice social distancing from other "families" (classrooms). 

Once you have filled out the survey, you will receive an email back from me with "next steps" depending on what category you fall into: returning right away, returning some time this summer, returning in the fall, or not returning at all.

Thank you for your patience as we navigate this new path for the first time. We will be getting ready in these next few weeks with training, cleaning, training, and more cleaning, and we are so excited to have those of you back on [DATE] that plan to return. For the rest of you, we will be ready to welcome you back when you are ready to return!

Please email [EMAIL ADDRESS] with any questions. BEFORE DOING SO, please read the attached handbook as well as fill out the survey with the link above.

Thanks,

[YOUR NAME]

If you need help updating your parent handbook for COVID-19, download our free template here:

4. Create a More Detailed Survey

Attaching a survey that is more detailed to the email with opening instructions will be super helpful to you for knowing exactly who is returning and how to staff each classroom. Send the survey out at least a few weeks before you anticipate opening so that you feel prepared.

Sample questions can include:

  1. Contact information
  2. When do you expect to send your child back to school? Be very specific with date, days, and time.
  3. We will be adjusting our hours in the beginning to be 7am-4pm. Will this keep you from enrolling your child?
  4. If you answered “yes” to needing different hours, what would they be?
  5. Have you read the updated COVID-19 handbook and do you agree to the new terms? If so, sign here.
  6. Do you understand that you will need to pay a holding fee of 20% if you choose to not send your child back to school right away in order to hold your child’s spot? If so, sign here.
  7. What questions do you have that you would like addressed?

5. Arrange for Picking Up Belongings

Chances are that items were left behind when your center had to close abruptly, so send an email for extra items to be picked up after you have cleaned your classrooms, particularly for families who won’t be returning right away.

Hi Parents,

As we are preparing to open for families next week we have been giving every room a final inspection for readiness. Due to the quick closing, many of you were not able to pick up your child's belongings. Our teachers have gone through every classroom and gathered every child's belongings, artwork, spare clothes, etc. We are asking EVERY parent to stop by this week between the hours of 10:00-3:00 and grab their child's belongings. When you arrive, you can just ring the doorbell letting us know you are here, and we will have a runner grab your child's belongings and bring them to you.

If you have any questions please let me know!

Thanks,

[YOUR NAME]

6. Communicate About Refunds and Prorations

If you offered refunds to families due to closing suddenly and parents had already paid, you will want to figure out the best way to give refunds. Many families will offer to donate that refund, which is so nice. Others will want it to go toward their tuition when they return, and some will want the money back.

Sending an email to find out their plans for this is helpful. You could also just add this to your survey question to avoid another type of email, but either way, you’ll want to get this information. Be sure to give a realistic turnaround time for refunds as it takes longer on your end to get that sorted.

Hi families,

We are continuing to work hard preparing for opening on [DATE]! Since you all completed the online survey, I am able to figure out tuition and process holding fees. It would be great if you can let me know how you would like to proceed with your refund.

You have three choices on how to go about this:

1. You can donate the refund back to [CENTER NAME], which many of you have done, and it has been SO appreciated since we have suffered a huge loss financially while still paying each staff member, both part time and full time.

2. It can be applied toward your tuition/holding fee.

3. If you are not returning to [CENTER NAME] and have declined the holding fee, a check can be issued to you and mailed to your home.

Please email [EMAIL ADDRESS] with which choice you are going with so that we can get that sorted out ASAP. If you have already communicated to me about donating the refund, there's no need to send me another email. :)

Thank you to everyone for filling out the form online. It was so relieving to get 100% participation with that! 

Thank you,

[YOUR NAME]

7. Send Classroom Assignments (From Teacher)

Here’s an example we sent the week before returning:

Welcome back! ☀️🍎✏️

Hi everyone,

I would like to extend a warm welcome back to school! All of us here at [CENTER NAME] have surely missed seeing your kiddo each day.

This message is to make you aware of which classroom your child will be in and who their teachers will be. If you are receiving this message, your child will be in the [CLASS NAME] with [TEACHERS' NAMES].

We kindly ask that you begin having your child practice taking his/her shoes off and putting them back on independently. Since we will be a shoe-free classroom, they will be doing this several times throughout the day! In addition, please help your child get into a proper hand washing habit. 

If you have any questions, please reach out!

See you all next week,

[TEACHER NAME]

8. More Information for Returning Families

This email should have details on what drop off/pick up will look like as well as an invitation to a Q&A or opportunity to ask questions before opening. See below for example.

Hi families,

We are so excited to have our doors open on Monday. The teachers have been working hard to get the classrooms ready and be trained on our new procedures. This email is to give you some idea of what to expect, and it's more of a reminder from what you saw in the new handbook. Attached is a supply list for you so you can see what we need you to send in.

1. Drop off/Pick up

We will be contacting you with your specific drop off and pick up time. Please be patient with this procedure as we will do our best to be fast and efficient. Remember to please make sure any adults in the car wear a mask during drop off and pick up.

If your child is an infant or toddler, you may park your car and come into the lobby where someone will be there wearing PPE and checking your child(ren) in. If your child is 2 or older, you will pull up your car where there will be a sign and you will stay in your car while we check your child's temp and ask you some yes/no COVID-related questions.

At pick-up time, if your child is over the age of 2, stay in your car, and we will bring your child out to you. Please note: we will not be buckling your child in his/her seat. We will gladly open the car door and place your child in his/her seat, but it will be up to you to buckle the child in. There are so many kinds of car seats, and we want to make sure they are secured safely, so we will leave the buckling to you. :)

2. Socks only classrooms

Please make sure your child wears socks every day to school. I know in the summer it is tempting to throw sandals on your child's feet, but during this phase we will be leaving shoes in the hallway. The building can get "chilly" with the air conditioner on, so socks are the best choice. Please practice with your child how to remove shoes and how to put shoes back on since we will be doing this multiple times per day.

3. Masks

Children over the age of 2 will wear masks to the best of their ability during transitions (on the way to the bathroom, on the way back from the bathroom, on the way to the playground, etc.). If a child refuses to wear a mask or has trouble with it, we will not be enforcing it.

Staff will wear masks when children are expected to as well as when they are in close proximity to the children (bottle feeding, rocking, comforting, changing diaper, etc.). We ask that all parents and guardians who are picking up and dropping off please wear masks during procedure.

We will provide two masks per child that will remain here in the building and be laundered on site. If you need a few for your family, let me know, and I'll get some for you.

4. Class placement

You should have already heard from your child's teacher as to what classroom your child will be in. For some of you, it is the same class, while for others, it is in the "next size" up. We are being proactive in our move-ups so that we do not have children co-mingling with other ages like we normally would for transitions.

5. Physical distancing

During this phase, we will have classrooms stay within their "family" and not inter-mingle with other "families." We will not bring in any specials teachers (music, gym, Mandarin, etc.) during this phase. Instead, we will have live Zoom sessions for some specials and do special activities within our classrooms and outside.

6. Zoom Q & A

I will be available for questions tomorrow from 12-1pm and Sunday evening from 7-8pm. I will be on Zoom during those two times if you'd like to hop on and say hello, listen in, or ask questions.

The link for this is: [LINK]

This link will work for both meetings. I hope to see you at one of them. :) Looking forward to seeing most of you on [DATE]! The staff can't wait!

Thank you,

[YOUR NAME]

9. Send a Reminder for Q&A Before You Reopen

We did ours the Friday before and night before our opening day for parents to ask any other last minute questions. Always remember to record your Zoom sessions so you can share with others who missed, and always offer more than one option for those who can’t make it.

Here’s a sample email to send:

Hi families,

Just a reminder that there is a Zoom Q&A tonight at 7pm for those who are returning tomorrow/in the next few weeks. It is not mandatory, but feel free to hop on to listen in or ask your questions!

We are so excited to welcome you! It will be a bit different during this phase, but we have been working hard to make sure we are prepared and still making fun a priority for the children.

Zoom link: [LINK]

Have a great night, and I pray you all are staying healthy and safe. Missing all your faces!

Thank you,

[YOUR NAME]

If there is something here you don’t see and you need help with, write in the comments, and we will help you! No director, owner, or teacher should do this alone, and so allow us at HiMama to help ease this burden. You’re doing a great job trying to make sure your staff and families are safe and ready. We are rooting for you, and look forward to seeing each program flourish in the weeks and months ahead.

Missy Knechel

MIssy is a professor in the early childhood department at Eastern University and director of Victory Early Learning Academy, a childcare center that she started ten years ago. Prior to that, she taught Kindergarten and second grade for a total of 10 years. She has been married to her best friend, Jason, for 15 years, and together they have four beautiful children ages 5, 7, 9 and 11 in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, Missy loves to bake, read historical fiction, sing karaoke and travel to Central America on short term missions.

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