Welcoming Prelude to Preschool and Preschool Back to the 14Y

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We have missed you! And, like you, we want to be able to get on with our normal lives. As we all know, it’s not that simple this year. We are excited to be reopening our Prelude to Preschool and Preschool programs for the 2020-2021 school year.

We know you and your family have a lot of questions about what school will look like this year. To help you get a better picture of how our Early Childhood programs have adapted, Nili Shriber, the Director of Preschool for the 14Y, is here to answer some of our most frequently asked questions.

What guided the decision to reopen Prelude to Preschool and Preschool for the 2020-2021 school year?

We know how important social and emotional growth is to our Early Childhood families, and so much of that happens in-person. So since the day we had to shut down classes last March, we began planning ways to safely reopen Prelude to Preschool and Preschool classes as soon as we were able. With the guidance of our regulating agency, the New York State Department of Health, and with support from Educational Alliance, the 14th Street Y Executive teams, and experts in pediatric health, we have been working diligently behind the scenes on a reopening plan that prioritizes your child’s safety as well as their education.

What sort of safety measures is the 14Y taking to ensure students can stay safe while attending class?

Our top priority is making sure everyone is safe, so we have taken many precautions to be able to safely reopen classes. We will utilize our rooftop space more for both play and lessons. When indoors, classrooms will be set up to facilitate age appropriate social distancing. We have updated our HVAC filtering system. We have hand sanitizing stations in the lobby, and we will wash our hands (students and teachers alike) more often – and make hand-washing fun for our students. All classrooms and areas where students play, along with other “high touch” areas like door handles and elevators, will be cleaned regularly up to DOH standards.

Our Early Childhood programs are regulated by the Department of Health, so as the DOH releases new guidance, we will update and improve our safety measures accordingly. We are very aware that all the safety and health protocols are constantly changing. At every stage, our goal is to create and sustain a safe learning environment.

Are there any changes to class sizes or schedules?

We have always had outstanding teacher-to-student ratios; this year, our class sizes are shrinking even more to ensure proper social distancing and make sure students get individualized attention.

Prelude to Preschool classes will meet two days a week, Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays, with an option for Friday class as well. There are two class times: 9:00 – 11:00 AM, and 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM. For more information on class schedules for Prelude to Preschool, click here.

For 2-year-olds only, we are offering Preschool classes three days a week, Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM. For 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds, Preschool classes will meet five days a week with both a 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM option or a 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM full-day option. For more information on class schedules for Preschool, click here.

Are there any changes to the types of activities and lessons children will take part in during Preschool and Prelude to Preschool?

While a lot has changed this year, our approach to learning has not. Grounded in the Reggio Emilia and Bank Street approaches and infused with Jewish values, the 14Y is proud to remain a place for children to learn and grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally.

We are adapting our approach to fit the latest health and safety guidelines. For example, for tactile activities, students will wash their hands before and after, and all toys and materials will be thoroughly cleaned. Children will still be encouraged to socialize with one another and with teachers in a safe way that encourages social distancing and good hygiene.

What can parents and caregivers expect at drop-off and pickup?

To minimize the amount of families in the lobby at the same time, we have instituted a staggered drop-off time. For families who have registered for Prelude to Preschool or Preschool, more information on that will come with your class assignment. We will work with every family to find a drop-off time that works best for your schedule and follows safety measures we’ve put in place.

Before entering the building, parents, children, and teachers will have health screenings that will include a temperature check and a brief survey. All employees of the 14Y will be wearing masks at all times. Parents and caregivers are required to wear masks at drop-off and pick-up and observe social distancing. Due to space limitations and health and safety protocols, strollers will not be permitted in the building.

Are children expected to wear masks inside?

If your child is 2 or older, they will be encouraged to wear a mask indoors. For tips on how to talk to your child about wearing a mask and how to get them used to wearing one, please check out these tips and guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

What are you and your team most excited about for this upcoming school year?

Our teachers are so excited to have your children back in the classroom! We’ve missed you and your children so much, and we look forward to providing your child with a safe and welcoming environment this fall.

To help ease the transition, we will be arranging meet-and-greets between teachers and registered families before school starts. We can’t wait to see you!

Where can families find more information about Prelude to Preschool and Preschool, and the adjustments being made for the school year?

Please visit the Early Childhood section of our website for more details.

We’re currently offering virtual admissions tours and play dates for potential Prelude to Preschool and Preschool families to learn more about our offerings. To book a tour, please email Jill Shely at JShely@14streety.org.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at Nshriber@14streety.org. I am always here for your family.

Do you have any other tips for families to help them get ready for going back to school?

The start of the school year can bring up many emotions for parents – and this year, we’re anticipating even more so. My advice to parents is to be as calm and collected as possible. Your child can sense if you’re nervous, and that might reflect onto them. Show your excitement for returning to school, and ask your child how they’re feeling.

Share information that we send home in an age appropriate manner. The teachers and I will send home letters, calendars, and an invitation to an open house in September (more on this soon!) The open house will be a time for your child and family to come meet the teachers, see the 14Y and your classroom, and walk through our new health and safety routine.

Slow and steady is my path. Enjoy these final days of summer. Get some ice cream and casually drop bits about all the fun your child will have in school. We all have worries going into this year, and our children are very mindful and will ask questions and share their own thoughts. Right now, turn to them to guide you, and don’t let your worries get the best of you. Your child is ready to play and be with peers! Keep your language simple and your tone upbeat.

And keep breathing, we will get there! One moment at a time.

How can I apply to the 14Y’s Early Childhood programs?

Spots for Preschool are limited, so if you haven’t already, please apply today!

There are also some spots available for our signature Prelude to Preschool program, so we welcome you to apply!

We can’t wait to see your child back in the building this September!

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