As Childcare providers, we’re kinda prepared for sickness within our facilities. However, at some point there’s bound to be a highly contagious something-or-other spreading round your daycare! I wanted to share with you 3 lessons I learned recently after an outbreak, so that you can comeback stronger!

Have you had to deal with a wildfire sickness in your childcare biz yet? If you haven’t yet, read on!

What’s an outbreak?

Kids touch everything. And I mean All. The. Things. They also put lots of things in their mouths! And because of this, highly contagious diseases and infections spread FAST in childcare facilities!

When one kid has something infectious you want to isolate it as quickly as possible before it becomes an outbreak. An outbreak is when two or more cases occur of the same illness. And that happens super fast in daycares where the kids are in close contact.

Our recent outbreak scenario

In my 15 years of running a childcare business I’ve somehow managed to dodge any outbreaks. Even during Covid! So you can imagine my  face when a few weeks ago we had an outbreak of Hand, Foot & Mouth…oh no!

We all know and understand that in childcare ownership you will no doubt at some point deal with a highly infectious illness that enters your childcare business. And you can bet your bottom dollar that it has a high potential to be spread to others. So when it hit one of my facilities, I was not surprised at the event but was shocked at the speed at which it spread!

My goal this week is to help you learn a few lessons and navigate through the process a little simpler so that you aren’t coming at this from a clueless perspective. I want to share my tips for a successful comeback after an outbreak!

What happened?

We had a new child start who came from another day care center. Unknowingly, they brought with them the scary disease Hand Foot and Mouth. I say scary because it was! We’d never had to deal with it before.

Although we’d never had cases of Hand Foot and Mouth spread like this before, we were kind of prepared. We had things on hand, like our emergency plan, to help us deal with it. And we’ve obviously spent the last 18 months being extra vigilant because of Covid-19. But still!!

closed because of outbreak

Once we knew what we were dealing with, we shut down the facility for a few days into the weekend. This allowed the sickness to run its course and for us to do what we needed to do in the center! And we were able to come back fresh on the Monday morning ready for whatever that week was gonna throw at us.

Wanna watch my Monday Moves YouTube instead of reading? Here you go!

We learned a lot during those few days! What a learning curve! Here’s a few of the main lessons from our outbreak…

Lesson 1 – is it time to rethink your intake processes? 

Where we are, rules state that clients have a time period of about a month in which their child has to get a physical. Which means that kids start without us knowing if they have a clean bill of health or not. Normally, we have to wait for the paperwork.

But this recent outbreak has made me reconsider this! Moving forward, I want children to have that paperwork before they start. It means I can protect the families we serve already and also my All Star Team!

How does your intake process work? What are your state guidelines? If yours are loose like ours, maybe try making it a bit stricter. It should help you cut down on potential outbreaks.

Lesson 2 – Take a look at your childcare set up

Is there something in your set up that can be changed to prevent the spread?  We have lockers for our older kids, but in our facilities for younger children we have open cubbies. And we realized that the toddler cubby area was where Hand Foot and Mouth came in and where it was spread. Little kids touching each others things and the belongings are cross-contaminating. So we’ve now got lockers for our toddlers!

germs

What could you alter in your daycares to slow the spread of infectious diseases? Make sure you’ve looked at cleaning protocols and handwashing routines for kids and grown ups too.

Lesson 3 – Don’t forget the basics!

I know the mornings are super hectic, but don’t let your vigilance slip! Keep your eyes peeled for things other than Covid. We’ve been constantly checking temperatures, but maybe more so than looking for wellness visual signs. And that’s where we can spot signs of other – potentially highly contagious – things like Hand Foot and Mouth.

One thing that helps is asking the kids how they’re doing. They’re so good at telling you exactly how they’re feeling! So you can then quiz parents gently about any symptoms the child’s brought up.

And make sure your team practice your emergency plans on a regular basis to keep everyone on their toes! That way they’re not panicking when something actually happens.

plan

I hope these lessons help you prevent an outbreak in your daycare! Have you got any tips you’d like to share? Please leave them in the comments below!

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