Fall 2022 COVID Procedure Letter from Becky

Hello LCLA Families! 

My name is Becky Ketarkus, I am one of the Owners of LCLA. At LCLA, I serve in the role of Financial Administrator. Outside LCLA, I work as a Nurse Educator for Children’s Wisconsin. I work out of the Madison Regional Office, in a primarily work from home position, while I pursue my Doctorate in Public Health. 

During the first few incredibly uncertain months of the COVID-19 pandemic, you heard from me quite a bit as I wrote new policies and procedures for the center based on the quickly changing science of the virus. Our staff moved just as quickly to put those policies in action. Our staff closed classrooms and quarantined as needed, but they never once shuttered the centers to care. I am so incredibly proud and grateful for their frontline work. 

As the months passed, and vaccines became more readily available, we hung onto those policies and procedures to guide us. Until the Omicron variant arrived, nearly two years after the pandemic began, we didn’t have one case of COVID in the center. At that point, it became unavoidable, and we saw the impact on our staffing the same way quite a few centers did. Because of Omicron, its impact on staffing, and to protect our youngest children in care, we kept our masks firmly in place. 

We consulted with my fellow School Nurses as well as Dane County Public Health on how to proceed this fall. We watched the local school districts, and their decisions, carefully. I reviewed all the CDC guidance. And finally, we asked all of you how you wanted to proceed. At the core, family and staff voices matter the most. The overwhelming feedback from everyone involved was that it was time to move to masks optional within the centers. 

We know there will be quite a few feelings about this decision. Maybe this will be a happy transition for some. For others, this change may feel very frightening. I have a medically fragile daughter. I know firsthand the trust we are asking you to place in us when we are caring for your children during a global pandemic. We want to be very transparent about our practices.  

We plan to follow MMSD guidance for health and safety in regard to COVID-19. Some of this isn’t new. Universal precautions have always been used within the centers. Health screeners are a licensing requirement for LCLA. Staff who choose to continue to wear masks will be supported in this choice, and PPE will be provided by the centers for them. We will still be extremely cautious regarding symptoms of illness. If your child is ill, please keep them at home. Any child exhibiting symptoms of either respiratory or gastrointestinal illness will be asked to stay home. LCLA is fortunate enough to have two pediatric nurses on call to assist with decision-making about whether or not a child needs to be excluded from care. Staff are excellent about tapping into this resource. We cannot mandate vaccination. We encourage staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 if their personal health allows for it, and we have provided release time to do this. As boosters became available, we provided release time to do this as well. Our overall vaccination rate among staff is very high. 

Like every other educational institution in the country, we are facing staffing shortages. LCLA administration is working hard to balance staff retention with safety procedures. These last two years have been incredibly hard for our teachers. We are fortunate to have a comparatively low turnover rate at LCLA amongst our teaching staff. In June of 2023, LCLA will celebrate 20 years of caring for children. I have never been more grateful for the staff that care for your children every single day. Their dedication throughout this pandemic has been second to none. Thank you, teachers! We appreciate everything you have done, and will continue to do, for the children of LCLA. 

If you need clarification about procedures in your child’s classroom, we encourage you to talk to their teacher first. Amanda, LCLA Center Director, is also happy to clarify anything that is unclear. If you have policy concerns, please feel free to email me at bketarkus@gmail.com

Thank you! 

Becky Ketarkus
Little Chicks Learning Academy