Tallmadge childcare facilities prepare for school reopening

King's Kids School Age Childcare director Patti Trettel sits with children in the hallway before the coronavirus pandemic. Now new protocols increase distancing as they prepare for school to open.

TALLMADGE – With schools reopening, childcare facilities are preparing a safe environment for children.

Rhonda Moffatt has been the owner of Childscape Learn and Grow, 154 East Ave., since 2011 and enrolls children from 6 weeks to 12 years old.

When the pandemic began, Moffatt said she had to reduce the number of children to follow the health department guidelines.

Parents were not allowed inside the building and staff took the child’s temperature, they washed hands and went to a classroom, which were divided for smaller groups, she said.

“It was an arduous task,” Moffatt said. “We hired a cleaning person to clean all day surfaces and toys. We have done a lot to try to help to prevent the spread. None of the employees or children have been sick, and the parents are doing their due diligence.”

Before COVID-19, Childscape Learn and Grow had 163 children but only 48 during the pandemic period. They are now at 93 with the dividers still in place.

“We want to watch and monitor what is going on,” Moffatt said. “We keep strenuous procedures.”

The staff and children older than 10 wear masks, she said. 

“In an ever-changing world with a lot of uncertainties, we wanted to take the stress and worries off their plate by providing their children a safe and friendly environment with the people they already knew,” Moffatt said.  

Moffatt said they watch school children before and after school and have a camp during the summer which had guests come in such as the reptile lady and police officers. This year nine children were in four classrooms for the summer camp.

“It has been challenging getting used to new norms and then have them change,” Moffatt said.

During the pandemic 17 employees of the normal 29 stayed.

“They stepped up to provide childcare to our families who were in essential fields and already dealing with the stress of COVID firsthand during the pandemic period,” she said.

Another child care facility is King’s Kids school-age care in Tallmadge Lutheran Church, 759 East Ave., run by director Patti Trettel.

King’s Kids provides before and after school care for students in grades K-6. They normally offer a summer camp but was closed this summer because of COVID-19. They will open on the first day of school with about 25 instead of the normal number of 36 children.

“We will have half of what we normally have [enrolled] to provide enough adequate spacing,” Trettel said. “Right now we will work with what we have until we see how that goes with distancing and add more if able.”

Everyone will have increased hand washing and more outside time if weather is nice, Trettel said. They will practice social distancing with as much interaction as possible.

Fifth graders who will attend middle school won’t need the service because of their earlier school hours, she said.

With Gov. Mike DeWine’s change to day care ratio, which takes effect Aug. 9, the facility can go back to 18 students to one teacher instead of nine to one teacher, which was implemented with the pandemic, Trettel said.

“I was thrilled to hear that,” Trettle said. “It is very difficult to keep kids apart.”

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at lfreeman@recordpub.com