Knox County Head Start Prepares for Social Distancing

Dear KCHS Families,

Knox County Head Start is working with the local health department, Knox Public Health and our Board of Directors and agency leadership to create plans for minimizing the spread of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus.

We are advised to practice social distancing. This means that families who can remove themselves and stay home during the immediate future should do so. This will decrease the speed and spread of new cases of the virus, known as flattening the curve. If we can stagger or spread out the illness, we will lessen the concern for overwhelming our resources (hospital system, etc.). Although children seem largely unaffected from severe disease, they are likely part of transmission. Best case scenario is that removed children may not get the illness at all. Families and staff with close contacts of immunocompromised adults, high-risk adults, newborns, or pregnant women may benefit significantly. This is a public health crisis and we are focused on protecting children, families and our staff and their families, some of whom are high-risk adults themselves. We are concerned about our staff who struggle with immune and chronic diseases.

At this time, we will not be conducting home visits. All six-hour and half-day classrooms will be closed after today and as long as schools are closed. Agency leadership will be working to find ways to continue educational activities remotely and to share resources.

At this time, pending other developments, we intend to have full-day, full-year classes open on this Monday, but we will close all centers Tuesday through Friday. On Friday, our healthy staff and those without high-risk family members living in their homes will be in the centers to do full sanitizing of all classrooms, offices and shared spaces.

Tentatively, and only if we are able (meaning if we have enough healthy staff members to safely care for children and local circumstances indicate we can do so safely), we will open full-day, full-year classrooms on March 23, 2020, in a limited manner. This may mean we could limit hours or locations and we will ask parents to limit care if available only to those hours necessary. We will share more information as it becomes available.

We will be contacting every family we serve over the next few days to identify most critical needs and to find resources in the community to meet those needs to the degree we can. We intend for our staff to work to the best of their ability, and we will be collaborating with the community to help our children and families manage during this difficult time.

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