March 17, 2020
Dear St. Michael’s families,
First of all, my apologies for the delay in getting this longer explanation to you. The past few days have been a flurry, and my two main concerns this afternoon were to get the message out as quickly as possible and to continue to work on plans moving forward.
That being said, the finality of the decision arrived with two moments. First, a blind survey of the staff, more than half of whom said they would be unable to come to work because of medical status or the need to care for their own children. With K-12 schools closed, that is hardly a surprise. With half of our staff absent, the logistics of which rooms to open, how to discern which families get to attend, and how to adhere to licensing regulations (to say nothing of the higher standards of Stars) became a quagmire. And then the second moment: as the list of restrictions and precautions continue to stream in, why would we put our community at risk when so many other aspects of life are being protected and severely restricted?
I truly appreciate how difficult this is for families and for businesses. I have offered and will continue to offer suggestions to the state agencies as to how to accommodate the “essential” work force–first responders, medical personnel, etc.–but this is not an operation that should be put on child care facilities without major support. The fact that we are deemed a “controlled environment” is spoken by people who have not watched a three-year-old sneeze or are not aware of the fact that for every one of our 158 children, there is at least one adult that accompanies that child to and from the classroom–twice a day.
As for finances, self-pay families will have adjustments made and staff will be paid. Those details have not been determined yet, but we are well aware that services have not been provided and we are committed to the well-being of our staff. POC and POC+ families can help us by sending emails, letters, phone calls to DHSS requesting that emergency funds be made available, as provided by Disaster Relief of CCDBG funding (which funds POC). In fact, advocacy right now is huge. Flood the governor’s office and your local legislators, asking them what they are doing to support working families through these weeks of emergency.
I hope that in days, weeks, and months to come, I will have the luxury of being viewed as overly conservative (not an adjective that has ever been associated with me before!) or over-reacting. I can live with that. What I can’t live is thinking that St. Michael’s could have been part of slowing down the contagion of COVID-19 and we didn’t and more folks were put at risk. I also hope you trust that this decision was made with nothing but concern for our children, our families, our staff, our community, and, ultimately, our country.
I will be in the office daily; I walk to work! Please let me know if you need to get anything from school and I am happy to make sure I am there at a convenient time. My email and cell phone info is below.
I pray for all of us that this will pass quickly and that we will all enjoy a glorious spring.