The health and safety of all Wonders families and staff is a primary concern as we monitor the new coronavirus. We have been monitoring the CDC’s recommendations for schools and child care facilities and will continue to make decisions based upon the CDC and local health department recommendations concerning COVID-19.
As we navigate this uncertain time, three goals guide our focus:
- Sustaining Wonders through this crisis
- Supporting our teachers and staff
- Staying connected as a community
June 15, 2020 – The health and safety of the children, families, and educators of Wonders Early Learning + Extended Day has always been our top priority. Last week Governor Hogan and MSDE announced that child care is open in Maryland. This announcement does not pertain to Montgomery County as the county is still in phase 1 of the recovery. Any child care program that is operating in the county right now is operating under MSDE approval as an Essential Personnel Child Care (EPCC) program. We recently received approval to be an EPPC program at Edgemoor Early Learning. We plan to open on June 22, 2020. It is anticipated that Montgomery County will enter phase 2 sometime this week, and presumably, child care in the county will be open to all families. Leland’s reopening is dependent upon the county’s timeline, MSDE’s operating approval, and enrollment demand. As Wonders plans to reopen our programs to children, we will be implementing additional guidelines, policies, and procedures to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection and lower the likelihood of its spread. These new guidelines and policies are considered an addendum to our Wonders Family Handy Book.
June 12, 2020 – We have not conducted our annual re-enrollment process for the new school year. It is unclear at this time what the start of the new school year will look like and we are awaiting guidance from MCPS, DCPS, Milton, and CESJDS. As soon as we know more, we will be in touch to let you know what programming we will be offering in the fall. Families who are currently enrolled or on the waiting list for 2020-2021, will have priority in enrollment.
We value the trust that you place in Wonders. Although we are not fully operating, we are using this time to train our educators on enhanced health and safety requirements and evolving MSDE and CDC guidance. We are also engaged in leadership discussions and learning about how we can strengthen our approach to anti-bias education in our programs and expand our knowledge of anti-racist theory. Our focus on ensuring that each child is known and supported in their identity development is only successful if we remain committed to safe and healthy learning environments that are created and guided by educators who believe in life-long learning. So although you do not see us daily, important work continues.
Wonders Summer Experiences
Available Weekly June 1 – July 31, 2020
Camp won’t be in person this summer, but the fun, friendship, and laughter that summer camp provides will not be stopped! Wonders Summer Camp staff has captured the “best of camp” experiences and will be bringing them to campers through virtual synchronistic and self-guided activities. Camp is offered on a week by week basis to fit your schedules and offer flexibility. To extend the camp experience and promote independent creativity and play, Box of Wonders is included in your camp week. Box of Wonders is a curated box of supplies to be used throughout the week. Box of Wonders is a weekly subscription and can be purchased alone or as part of Summer Camp. Boxes are available for pick-up the Friday before your selected camp week or can be mailed for an additional shipping fee.
Visit Wonders Summer Camp 2.0 to learn more and register.
Available Weekly June 22 – July 31, 2020
Our Early Learning Summer Program includes a virtual connection with our early learning teachers through circle/group times. Children are placed in two groups based on their ages: Infants/ Toddlers/ Young 2 and Older 2s – Rising Kindergarteners. Weekly enrichment classes are available for enrollment. Classes include yoga, spanish, JumpBunch, music, and creative storytelling. Add Box of Wonders to your child’s at home experience. Box of Wonders is a curated box of supplies for children ages 3, 4 and rising Kindergarteners. Each box has a theme and contains 5 activities for children to complete at their leisure. These activities are fun and exciting and keep children learning through play.
Visit Early Learning Summer Program to learn more and register.
We look forward to seeing you!
Stronger Together Relief Fund
Donations will help us meet the goals that we have set for supporting our staff and sustaining Wonders through the public health crisis:
- Sustaining Wonders through this crisis
- Supporting our teachers and staff
- Staying connected as a communityWonders' teachers and directors are the foundation of our organization. We will be using furloughs to ensure that our workforce remains intact. We want to preserve our staff because we have invested so much in the recruitment, training, coaching, and leadership of our workforce. And they are fantastic at what they do.During the furlough, Wonders will be paying the full cost of employees' monthly medical insurance premium, rather than it being a shared cost, as before. We believe that in this public health crisis, we must ensure that our staff does not have a disruption in access to medical care.This crisis has highlighted the fragile infrastructure of child care in this country. Wonders continues to advocate locally and nationally for our sector, our families, children, and staff. If there is a silver lining, we believe the focus on the importance of our work will create a stronger and more fully funded system of early care and education and extended day programming. Donate now to our Stronger Together Relief Fund.
- DC Public Schools (DCPS)
- Meal Sites for All DC Students
Equity Education Resources
- Let’s Talk About Race! A Family Guide to Positive Racial Identity Development for Young Children – a toolkit created as part of our partnership in the Equity in Early Learning Initiative
- Anti-Racism Resources for White People
- – a list of a variety of resources shared by the Washington Area Women’s Foundation
- Anti-bias Education Goals:
- ABE Goal 1: Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
- ABE Goal 2: Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.
- ABE Goal 3: Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
- ABE Goal 4: Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.
- Teaching Tolerance – an education website with resources for ages preK – 12th grade
May 31, 2020 - As an early learning and extended day organization committed to anti-bias education and equity, Wonders believes that our educators have a responsibility to engage in ongoing learning and reflection to ensure that each child is known and supported in their identity development. In addition to making sure that no child leaves a part of themselves at the door, we teach children to recognize when something is unfair and to advocate for fairness for themselves and others.Equity education requires us to challenge ourselves to really listen to one another. In our work as educators, we know that we need to be proactive and responsive in creating spaces for children to engage in anti-bias learning. As adults, we need to lean in and continue our learning. As a community, we need to reflect and respond to the events of this last week. And, although we are not together right now, we can continue to learn together as a community. Check below for resources that help inform our work at Wonders, and some new resources that have recently become available.May 22, 2020 - As improbable as it seems, this weekend is the “official” summer kick-off. As we have moved from the end of March to the end of May, we have continued to remain focused on our Stronger Together goals.It has been gratifying to witness the support and generosity of our community. We have raised $91,000! On behalf of the entire Wonders team, thank you very much for your ongoing support. It has also been amazing to lead such a committed and professional group of educators and leaders who have adapted to our new ways of working with tremendous creativity, grit, and heart.As we continue to adapt to the ongoing impact of the crisis, we have kept our focus on the core values of Wonders and the strengths of our educators to create and plan new program offerings.We are pleased to announce a new weekly virtual Wonders Summer Camp option that will be offered to children in elementary school, including rising kindergarteners. We are looking forward to summer fun with our Extended Day directors and assistant directors leading the way. And we are very happy to introduce a new way to experience learning through play, Box of Wonders. Box of Wonders is a weekly subscription of a Wonders curated box of supplies to promote children’s individual creativity and exploration. Each of these are offered on a week by week basis. More details and registration information can be found on our website.Our early learning programs are also planning a virtual summer camp, too. This program will provide more interaction and resources than we are currently providing, as we pivot to a fee-based model. Planning is underway and when we have finalized the details, we will share the information.Maryland has issued its Road to Recovery draft plan and DC has issued its Re-Open guide. There are still many unanswered questions as we plan for these next phases of recovery. We are currently planning training for staff on new health and safety guidelines, and strategies for supporting children and families now and when we re-open. We expect to use the next few weeks to further develop our new policies and procedures and ramp up the learning on the enhancing skills that will be necessary when we are able to open.We will be conducting re-enrollment for the Extended Day programs in June – after we have a better sense of what the school week will look like in the fall.May 8, 2020 - I am sure many of you can relate to looking forward to former routines. All of us at Wonders are looking forward to being together again in our classrooms and programs. We have begun planning for our eventual re-opening and in our planning, we recognize that there will be many new routines and procedures that we will have to incorporate. We are using local and federal guidance, relevant training and resources, and tapping into the regional and national child care network for support.On May 15, both DC and Maryland should provide more information about the next steps for re-opening the economy. Child care is in phase two of the re-open models. You can expect more concrete information from Wonders after May 15.We were approved for the PPP loan and expect to receive the money today. Beginning this week, all Wonders staff, who were on the rotating schedule, have begun consistently working their regular hours. We are carefully planning the re-entry of other Wonders staff to meet the requirements of the loan forgiveness and to minimize Wonders loan obligation moving forward.With the addition of more staff, we will be adding more opportunities for virtual learning experiences and teacher interactions. Summer camp plans were underway in March, and now the planning includes the possibility of a virtual camp. Flexibility and creativity is our motto right now!April 24, 2020 - As the weeks continue to pass, it is my hope that we will continue to stay connected and steady as a community. This crisis has impacted everyone in multiple ways and we recognize how incredibly challenging it is to manage work, parenting, relationships, and finances with so much uncertainty about the future. Hang in there and please, be gentle with yourself.One of the ways to remain resilient is to honor traditions and express gratitude. The week of May 4, is Teacher Appreciation Week. Each year, the early learning families organize several expressions of gratitude and appreciation for their teachers. One of the most beloved traditions is hanging children’s cards and drawings for their teachers in the hallways of our early learning centers. This year, I invite all of our families to send me photos of drawings and/or cards for their teachers. We will share them with the teachers over the course of the week. This will be a special surprise for our amazing before and after school and early learning teachers.April 17, 2020 - I am so very pleased to report that many, many families responded to our request for support. We have raised just over $69,000! This will enable us to cover the health care costs for Wonders staff for the months of April and May and some of June. Just yesterday, we received a $10,000 grant from the Small Business Administration. We are waiting to hear about our applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP). We have applied for Montgomery County’s Public Health Emergency Grant (PHEG). We are in the process of applying for a line of credit through our reserve fund’s financial management firm.
We are carefully managing our cash flow and will be able to cover payroll for the weekly rotating staff, through May 5, 2020. We hope the decisions about our various grant/loan applications will be known soon. At this point, we do not plan to further reduce staffing, but we will continue to revisit our weekly strategy.
As is our mission, we are also advocating for our regional childcare workforce and sector. This coming Wednesday, I will be participating in a panel discussion hosted by Nonprofit Montgomery, on the crisis and its impact on early care and education. I am also engaged in work with Montgomery Moving Forward and its advocacy for the early care and education workforce. These efforts underscore the importance of our work educating and caring for children and the critical connection to the economic health of the community.
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