culture 
compliance

EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK | compliance

Other employment policies

First Circle strives to implement employment policies that are fair and generous to both the employee and employer. The policies in this manual have been thoroughly researched and comply with federal and state employment laws.

Confidentiality

You have the right to access the records of the children in your classroom, including their developmental history (All About Me), medical records, etc. However, all information in a child’s file is confidential. We are prohibited from disclosing or providing the information contained in children’s files to anyone without the express written consent of the parent or guardian.

Personal remarks or conversations about families or children not related to the children’s care with your co-workers in the classroom or any other public place where conversation can be overheard are strictly prohibited. Staff should be careful of sharing work stories with family or household members. When discussing work-related issues, always protect the identity of the child or family.

Additionally, if a parent says something negative about First Circle, avoid arguments and direct discussions, and direct them to Administration.

Social + digital media policy

The confidentiality policy also applies to all social media and networking websites used personally or professionally. We understand many people use social networking sites, but we strongly recommend that you not “friend” parents of the children that attend First Circle. We urge you to use privacy settings that will keep your photographs viewable by “friends” only.

Digital photographs are an important method to document children’s progress. For privacy and liability reasons, any photo taken at First Circle is considered our property. You may use your own phone but the photographs (whether printed or on file) must remain at First Circle. You may not post pictures taken at First Circle to ANY social networking site or use them for personal use (as wallpaper on your phone or home computer), regardless of whether the family has given you permission.

You are prohibited from making disparaging comments about First Circle, your supervisors, co-workers, or members of any First Circle family. In other words, never write or say anything you wouldn’t want read by your supervisor, published to a website, or used in a court of law. Unless given permission, you are not authorized to speak on behalf of First Circle, or to represent that you do so.

Phone calls and visitors

We ask that you schedule your phone calls outside working hours. Your cell phone should be off while you are in the classroom. Because your position requires your constant attention be on the children, phone calls must be made outside the classroom and on First Circle phones, unless you are on an unpaid break. On occasion, personal calls may be necessary, but we ask you to limit them to emergencies or essential personal business, and to keep them brief.

All visitors must obtain permission before spending time on our premises. At no time can visitors be with you in the classroom.

Office equipment

Each location has office equipment (such as laminator, labeler, copy machine, staff laptop) for shared use by staff. Specific equipment varies by location. Please ask Admin first before using the equipment for personal use. Educators using the equipment for educational use have priority over staff using it for personal use during break time. Please be polite! Please do not download programs to the company computers unless you have approval from Administration.

Solicitation and distribution policy

We expect your work hours at First Circle to be dedicated to your job responsibilities and child care. Solicitation of staff or children’s family members is prohibited, unless the item or activity is approved in advance by the Administration. Non-employees are never allowed to solicit or distribute materials on center property without First Circle’s approval.

Solicitation and/or distribution of materials between employees is prohibited during work hours, but allowed during break or meal times, if it does not interfere with the employee’s job responsibilities and does not take place in the classroom.

Workplace privacy and right to inspect

First Circle property includes but is not limited to cabinets, phones, computers, tablets, desks, workplace areas, vehicles, or machinery. First Circle property remains under company control and is subject to inspection at any time, without notice to any employees, and without their presence. You should have no expectation of privacy in any of these areas. We assume no responsibility for the loss of, or damage to, your property maintained on company premises including that kept in lockers and desks.

audio/video monitoring + recording policy

As an important part of our quality assurance, training, and security, we have cameras throughout all areas of the center (excluding bathrooms areas). To protect the security and privacy of the students and adults at the center, First Circle has the following policies governing their usage:

  • First Circle reserves the right, but is not required, to retain any audio/video recordings for any period of time, unless specifically directed by a law enforcement agency or a state agency.

  • We do not guarantee that all interior and exterior areas of the center will be covered by audio or video monitoring (typically due to system limitations or other technical issues). 
  • Audio and video monitoring will never be used as a substitute for the direct supervision of children.
  • First Circle will fully cooperate with authorities investigating suspected child abuse or neglect.

Awareness and Consent

All First Circle staff and parents are aware of the monitoring and recording on premises and provide their consent as a condition of employment or enrollment. There should be no expectation of privacy except in the bathroom areas. In addition, notices are posted in the building.

Access to Live Monitoring

Watching the live monitor is consistent with First Circle’s Open Door policy and parents may view with administrative staff only. Recording the sound and/or images displayed on the monitors is not permitted. 

Access to Recordings

All recordings are the property of First Circle Learning Center, and we have the right to restrict access to any recording of any time and any location from anyone. Review of recordings is allowed only with the specific approval of the executive team. 

Weapons policy

First Circle prohibits all persons who enter company property from carrying a handgun, firearm, or other weapon regardless of whether the person is licensed to carry the weapon or not. This policy applies to all company employees, contract and temporary employees, visitors, and customers. The only exception to this policy is police officers acting within their professional capacity.

Conflict of interest

Our employees must meet high ethical standards in their job performance. We ask that you not engage in any activities outside First Circle that conflict with your job performance; if you know of something that will impact it, please advise the Director.

Smoking policy

There is no smoking or vaping allowed inside First Circle under any circumstances at any time. Outside the school, there is no smoking or vaping allowed during operating hours within 10 feet of the building. If employees smoke or vape outside the 10-foot radius of the building, the following guidelines apply:

  • You must show discretion and not be seen smoking in front of parents or children.
  • You must clock out while smoking.
  • All cigarette butts must be disposed of and not left on First Circle grounds.
  • You must make every effort to minimize the smell of smoke on your person.
  • At no time may you have a vape device in the classroom.

Babysitting policy

Although many early childhood programs prohibit babysitting for families, First Circle chooses not to. However, if you babysit for First Circle families, please remember that you are always an ambassador of First Circle. How you conduct yourself will, whether at work or in someone’s home, reflect on us as well. The following guidelines apply to staff who choose to babysit:

  • Babysitting for families is not allowed during First Circle’s operating hours.
  • Employees must not discuss any aspect of First Circle business with families.
  • Babysitting is a private transaction between you and that family. First Circle is not responsible in any way for the care of that child(ren) during those services.
  • You must adhere to the confidentiality policies stated in this manual.

Personal appearance/hygiene

We want First Circle to be a relaxed environment, where children, staff, and families feel comfortable. We ask that staff use their best judgment when dressing for working with children:

  • All clothing (even jeans) should be clean, free from excessive wrinkles, and in good repair (without holes or tears).
  • Comfortable shoes are essential. Please do not wear heels. We recommend that footwear cover toes and have a back strap or enclosed heel. Although flip-flops are not prohibited, you risk injury when making a choice not to protect your feet and toes (especially on the playground!). Bare feet are never allowed.
  • Dress for participation in outdoor activities.
  • Your clothes should be appropriately sized, neither too small nor too tight.
  • Clothing with pictures or writing should be appropriate for children.
  • Please do not wear see-through clothing or clothing that allows undergarments or their straps to be exposed. Before coming to work, please make sure that sitting, bending, or reaching doesn’t expose skin or undergarments.
  • Shorts and skirts should be of a reasonable length: mid-thigh or lower (with your arms hanging down, make sure your garment is at or below your fingertips), skirts higher than knee-length require shorts underneath.
  • Show good taste in your attire: pants/bottoms with high enough waist to cover the skin of your midsection (front and back), tops with high enough neckline to hide bra or chest hair, (and long enough to keep skin of your midsection covered), shoulder straps must be a minimum three fingers in width (no spaghetti straps) and no strapless tops are to be worn.
  • When you wear leggings or stretch pants, please wear a top that reaches to the hip. Please don’t wear spandex, bike shorts, bathing/swimming wear, or sleepwear (unless for a planned event or occasion!).
  • Long nails, dangling earrings, and other protruding jewelry should be avoided.
  • Please wear deodorant/antiperspirant, especially during warmer months.
  • Please wear a bra or suitable support.
  • Please avoid wearing cologne/perfume, as strong odors of any kind can be offensive, and some people are allergic to perfume.

Employee accommodations

Disability

First Circle complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and all applicable state and local fair employment practice laws. We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities, including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, such as lactation or the need to express milk for a nursing child. Consistent with this commitment, First Circle will provide reasonable accommodation to otherwise qualified individuals where appropriate to allow the individual to perform the job, unless doing so would create an undue hardship on the business.

If you require an accommodation because of your disability, it is your responsibility to notify your director. You may be asked to include relevant information such as:

  • a description of the proposed accommodation
  • the reason you need an accommodation
  • how the accommodation will help you perform the essential functions of your job

After receiving your request, First Circle will talk with you to determine the precise limitations of your disability and explore potential reasonable accommodations that could overcome those limitations. Where appropriate, we may need your permission to obtain additional information from your medical provider. All medical information received by First Circle in connection with a request for accommodation will be confidential.

First Circle encourages you to suggest specific reasonable accommodations you believe would allow you to perform your job. However, we are not required to make your specific accommodations and may provide an alternative accommodation, to the extent any reasonable accommodation can be made without imposing an undue hardship on First Circle. If leave is provided as a reasonable accommodation, that leave may run concurrently with leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and/or any other leave permitted by state and federal law.

First Circle will not discriminate or retaliate against employees for requesting an accommodation.

Pregnant workers fairness acts policy

The Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act prohibits discrimination against employees due to pregnancy or conditions related to pregnancy. The law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are pregnant or have a condition related to pregnancy. Conditions related to pregnancy include, but are not limited to, morning sickness, lactation, or the need to express breast milk. The procedures for requesting an accommodation are described in the Massachusetts Disability Accommodation policy.

Where an individual is suffering from a pregnancy-related disability or condition, reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to:

  • more frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks
  • time off to attend to a pregnancy complication or recover from childbirth with or without pay
  • acquisition or modification of equipment or seating
  • temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position
  • job restructuring
  • light duty
  • private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk
  • assistance with manual labor
  • modified work schedule

Breastfeeding policy

First Circle is committed to providing a breastfeeding-friendly environment for our enrolled children and staff.

DESIGNATED PLACE:

As much as possible, we provide breastfeeding mothers, including employees, a private and sanitary place (other than a bathroom) to breastfeed their babies or express milk. This area has an electric outlet, comfortable chair, and nearby access to running water. Mothers are also welcome to breastfeed in front of others if they wish.

STORAGE:

We provide refrigerator space for expressed breast milk. Mothers should provide their own containers, clearly labeled with name and date.

SUPPORT:

First Circle is committed to supporting breastfeeding mothers, including providing an opportunity to breastfeed their baby in the morning and evening, and holding off giving a bottle, if possible, when mom is due to arrive. Infant formula and solid foods will not be fed to a child unless requested by the mother.

TRAINING:

All center staff will be trained in the proper storage and handling of breast milk, as well as ways to support breastfeeding mothers. First Circle follows human milk storage guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid waste and prevent foodborne illness.

STAFF:

First Circle will provide nursing mothers reasonable unpaid break time to express milk. You are encouraged to discuss the length and frequency of these breaks with the director. Expressed milk can be stored in company refrigerators or in a personal cooler. Label your milk to avoid confusion for other employees who may share the refrigerator.

Time allowed for nursing or expressing milk does not exceed the normal time allowed to other employees for lunch and breaks. For time above and beyond normal lunch and breaks, PTO may be used, or the employee can come in earlier or leave later to make up the time.

Religious

First Circle is dedicated to treating its employees equally and with respect and recognizes the diversity of their religious beliefs. All employees may request an accommodation when their religious beliefs cause a deviation from the company dress code or the individual’s schedule, basic job duties, or other aspects of employment. First Circle will consider the request but reserves the right to offer its own accommodation to the extent permitted by law. Some, but not all, of the factors that will be considered are cost, the effect an accommodation will have on current established policies, and the burden on operations, including other employees. At no time will First Circle question the validity of a person’s belief. If you request an absence to observe a holy day, you must provide us with at least 10 days’ notice. First Circle may require you to make up the time lost. If you require a religious accommodation, please speak with the director.

Regulatory compliance

The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is our licensing agency. All policies and procedures listed in this handbook comply with EEC regulations. A copy of the regulations is available from Administration. Specific regulations all educators must be aware of and follow include:

Postings

EEC requires us to post the following information in an area easily visible to parents, educators, and visitors:

  • the current license
  • emergency information by each phone
  • a list of all emergency or life-saving medications (including EpiPens, inhalers, and anti-seizure medications), specifying which children they belong to, and a list of allergies and/or other emergency medical information for each child, in a manner that protects the privacy of each child
  • the location of the health care policy and the location of the first aid kit
  • emergency and evacuation procedures next to each exit
  • diapering and toilet training procedures in diapering areas

First Circle provides classrooms the following required postings:

  • Five Rights of Medication
  • Nut-free program
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Handwashing procedures by each sink
  • Cleaning/Sanitizing/Disinfecting Instructions
  • CPR instructions
  • Exclusions from Care
  • Annual Themes

Ratios

DURING THE FIRST AND FINAL 2 HOURS OF THE PROGRAM DAY

GROUP SIZE # OF EDUCATORS LIMITS ON AGES
1-6 1 No more than 2 infants;
No more than 3 children younger than 2.
1-6 2 No more than 6 children younger than 2.
7-8 2 No more than 2 infants;
No more than 3 children younger than 2.
7-10 2 No more than 3 infants
No more than 6 children younger than 2.
7-10 3 No more than 6 children younger than 15 months.

ALL TIMES OTHER THAN FIRST/LAST 2 HOURS OF THE DAY

AGE GROUP MAX GROUP SIZE EDUCATOR:CHILD RATIO EDUCATOR QUALIFICATIONS
Infants
up to 15 months
7 1:3 – one additional educator for 4-7 infants At least 1 Infant/Toddler Teacher
Toddlers
15 to 33 months
9 1:4 – one additional educator for 5-9 toddlers At least 1 Infant/Toddler Teacher
Preschoolers
33 months and up
20 1:10 At least 1 Preschool Teacher

Qualifications

Work qualifications are based on education and previous work experience.

Supervision of children

According to EEC regulations, educators must supervise children at all times, including indoor and outdoor activities, mealtimes, naptime, transportation, field trips, and transitions between activities.

  • Children younger than 6 months at the time of enrollment must be under direct visual supervision at all times, including while napping, during the first 6 weeks in care.
  • Educators must be:
    • aware of children’s activities
    • positioned to see and/or hear children in their care
    • close enough to children to intervene quickly when necessary
  • Educators must not engage in any activities that could divert their attention from supervising the children.
  • In programs serving infants and toddlers, educators must not leave a child unattended in an infant seat, on a changing table, or on any other surface that could result in a fall.
  • No child may be outdoors without adult supervision.

Interactions/curriculum

The following requirements apply to all programs:

  • Educators must respond to children’s individual needs and support the development of self-esteem, self-expression, autonomy, social competence, and school readiness.
  • Educators must nurture and respond to children by:
    • frequently expressing warmth by holding babies, having conversations, joint laughter, eye contact, smiles, and communicating at children’s eye level
    • providing attentive, consistent, comforting, and culturally sensitive care
    • being consistent and predictable in their physical and emotional care of children, and when implementing program rules and expectations
    • recognizing signs of stress in children’s behavior and responding with stress-reducing activities
  • Educators must support children in the development of self-esteem, independence, and self-regulation by:
    • demonstrating courtesy and respect
    • encouraging expression of both positive and negative emotions
    • encouraging their efforts, work, and accomplishments
    • assuring all children have equal opportunities to take part in all activities and use all materials
    • offering opportunities for children to make choices and decisions
  • Educators must support children in the development of social competence by:
    • promoting language use by talking to and with children frequently
    • encouraging children to share experiences and ideas, and to listen, help, and support each other
    • modeling cooperation, problem-solving strategies, and responsible behavior
    • teaching social skills such as sharing, taking turns, and working together
    • coaching children to resolve conflicts, problem-solve, and make decisions
    • helping children to:
      • understand and respect people different from themselves
      • respect each other’s possessions and work
      • learn effective ways to deal with bullying, teasing, or other forms of intolerance
  • Educators must guide children in a positive and consistent way by:
    • encouraging self-control, recognizing and reinforcing children’s appropriate behaviors, having reasonable and positive expectations, setting clear and consistent limits, and redirecting
    • helping children learn social, communication, and emotional regulation skills they can use in place of challenging behaviors
    • using environmental modifications, activity modifications, adult or peer support, and other teaching strategies to encourage appropriate behavior and prevent challenging behaviors
    • intervening quickly when children are physically aggressive and helping them develop more positive strategies for resolving conflict
    • explaining rules and procedures and the reasons for them to children, and where appropriate and feasible, allowing children to participate in the establishment of program rules, policies, and procedures
    • discussing behavior management techniques among staff to promote consistency
  • Educators must have a method of communicating effectively with each child.
  • Educators must guide children with the goal of maximizing growth and development, while protecting the group and the individuals within it.

What to do when EEC arrives

We have a good working relationship with our licensors because they can count on us to always follow regulations. Our licensor can visit unannounced any time for spot checks or to follow up on an injury or complaint. When our licensor arrives, there is no reason to be anxious. Please double check your cabinets are locked, attendance sheets are in order, and you have an accurate headcount.

Daily program management

Procare

Procare Solutions is the management software that First Circle uses to organize all child and family information. Administrators use Procare on their desktops to keep up-to-date head counts and ratios, and create reports that are distributed to the classrooms. These reports include sign-in/out sheets, child emergency forms, new enrollment notices, and staff time sheets. In addition, educators use the Procare system to clock in and out each day.

In conjunction with Procare Solutions, we use a tool called Procare Engage to document curriculum, observe and assess children’s development, and communicate with families. Information about each child and their authorized pick-up and emergency contacts is synced from Procare Desktop to Engage. Educators receive an invitation from Procare Engage to create an account and it can be accessed using an app on the classroom tablets to document daily activities and curriculum as well as document observations for assessments. (Assessments are done on the web at procareconnect.com.)

In Engage, families can send notes regarding attendance, changes in patterns or schedules at home, and other information that can help us support their child. In the infant and toddler programs, parents fill out specific information regarding their child’s wake up time, last diaper change, and last bottle/meal prior to drop off. Throughout the day, teachers must log the times of each child’s nap(s), bottles, snacks, meals, and diaper changes. All First Circle families receive an end-of-day email noting the day’s logged information, curriculum, activities, and any special notes or information specific to the classroom.

Typical daily schedule

A typical day at First Circle follows this general schedule, with a variety of curriculum activities, free and organized play, and regular diaper changing/bathroom visitation included throughout:

Early Dropoff/Morning Arrival

  • Arrive a few minutes early
  • Open center (if applicable)
  • Set up classroom
  • Help children transition into classroom
  • Record arrival on sign-in sheet
  • Notify office of absences
  • Update Engage
  • Keep up with general housekeeping
  • Relay information to classroom teacher when they arrive

Snack

  • Clean preparation counter and tables
  • Wash hands before preparing food
  • Wash children’s hands
  • Serve food
  • Clean up food from surfaces and floor
  • Clean and sanitize tables and preparation surface
  • Wash your hands and children’s hands

Outside

  • Survey playground to make sure there are no hazards
  • Line up bikes, put toys away before coming inside

LUNCH

  • Same steps as snack (above)

Rest Time

  • Prepare children’s sleeping area
  • Help children to sleep as necessary
  • Provide quiet activities to children who wake up after resting
  • Pack up sheets and blankets
  • Sanitize mats before putting them away

Snack

  • Same steps as snack (above)

Outside

  • Same steps as outside (above)

Afternoon/Pickup

  • Update Engage and parent notification board on a regular basis
  • Keep up with general housekeeping
  • Help transition children out of classroom
  • Record departure time on sign-out sheet
  • Close the classroom
  • Clean toys and materials as necessary
  • Clean and sanitize all hard surfaces

Opening

OPENING THE SCHOOL

At least two staff members are scheduled to open and responsible for:

  • turning on ALL lights
  • unlocking ALL doors
  • checking attendance voicemail and writing down messages
  • taking down chairs in opening classrooms
  • emptying dishwasher (if applicable), putting all dishes away
  • placing clothes from the washing machine (if applicable) in the dryer, folding clothes from the dryer
  • turning on printer and copier
  • checking the ProCare sign-in system to ensure it is running
  • mixing and replenishing large sanitizer jug if necessary

OPENING THE CLASSROOM

The first educator assigned to each classroom in the morning must complete these tasks by 8:00 a.m. Task completion should never interfere with classroom responsibilities or interactions with children and families.

  • ensure sign-in sheet is accessible and correct
  • set up choices in toddler and preschool classroom areas
  • read notes left by staff or Admin
  • make sure entryway outside classroom is clean and organized
  • retrieve toys and/or laundry from previous day from dishwasher, Zono, or dryer
  • restock spoons, forks, gloves, plates, tissues, paper towels, diapers/wipes, diaper paper, diaper bags for the day
  • for infants, ensure toys are available on the mats
  • preschool teachers prepare snacks and water for the day

Children’s arrival

Children arrive at different times in the morning.

EARLY DROPOFF

Some locations have an early dropoff option before 8:00 a.m. for an additional fee. Children who arrive before 8 a.m. are grouped with children in the same program (infants, toddlers and preschoolers).

DROPOFF

Parents are responsible for bringing children into the classroom and letting the educator know they’ve arrived. For safety, parents are not allowed to leave a child at First Circle:

  • before opening
  • before the child’s scheduled arrival time without office approval or
  • without making sure the child has been properly received by an educator

RESPONSIBILITIES

Your responsibilities when children arrive include:

  • Greet each child by name and acknowledge the family as they arrive.
  • Ensure the family provides all the information you need to care for their child.
  • Assist the parent in settling the child into the classroom. Ensure they complete the electronic record (if applicable). Encourage parents to notify you of any unusual behavior, disposition, or schedule changes. Parents should tell you if a child is feeling poorly, had a rough night or morning, has a parent out of town, or anything that might alter their child’s mood. Make a note of this information.
  • Take a moment to observe the child’s general health and well-being. Assess any potential illness or health issue that may impact the child or their ability to participate in the program. Refer to the illness policy to determine whether the child can stay at First Circle.
  • Note any scratches, bumps, or bruises. If you have a question about your observations or need clarification, speak with the parent, and complete an Injury Report with the family if applicable.
  • Help the child transition into the classroom by inviting the child to join in an activity (“Would you like to have snack with us, John?”). If a child is having difficulty, support and comfort as long as needed [see Curriculum section for more transition tips].
  • Reassure the parent that you will support and assist their child. Suggest that they call First Circle shortly to find out how things are going.
  • After engaging with parents, enter the child’s arrival time on classroom attendance sheet and check them into Procare Engage.
  • Remove any outdoor clothing and place the child’s belongings in a cubby.
  • Make sure the parent completes appropriate paperwork (e.g., Authorization for Medication). For infants and toddlers, parents must fill in the Engage information, indicating the time the child woke, ate, suggested menu for the day, any new foods tried at home, who is picking up and when, and contact information.

ABSENCE

We tell parents to call us as early as possible to report their child’s absence or let us know through Engage. We also ask to be advised if a child has been diagnosed with a contagious illness so we can notify staff and parents as necessary. We will notify you of any absence as soon as possible and advise you if any adjustments to the schedule have been made due to the absence, such as an additional educator who will no longer be needed to maintain ratios.

If you are notified directly of an absence, via voicemail or other means, you must notify Administration immediately. If a child has not shown up within an hour of their usual arrival time on a day they are scheduled and you have not been notified of the absence, please call (or ask an administrator to call) the parent to confirm the child is absent. Make every attempt possible to speak to someone rather than leave a message. Tuition is not refunded or credited for days missed due to illness.

DROP-IN

Drop-in requests are granted for enrolled children when space and staffing are available. If time permits, we will include the child on printed attendance forms. If not, you must write in the child and schedule, and indicate dropoff and pickup times. Drop-in children should be included in the plan for the day.

Parents are charged for the total hours requested (in full-hour increments), even if the child does not attend them all. If a child attends more than the requested hours, parents are charged additional hourly fees. No late pickup forms need to be filled out. Please notify Admin immediately if the hours attended do not match the hours indicated on the drop-in form.

Handwashing policy

We teach the children who are developmentally able to wash their hands frequently and that good handwashing takes three things: warm water, soap, and rubbing your hands together for 20 seconds.

Required handwashing for children and adults:
  • on arrival
  • after diapering or using the toilet
  • after handling body fluids (blowing or wiping a nose, coughing on a hand, or touching any mucus, blood, or vomit)
  • before meals and snacks, before preparing or serving food, or after handling raw food that requires cooking
  • before and after playing in water shared by two or more people
  • after handling pets and other animals or materials such as sand, dirt, or surfaces that may be contaminated by contact with animals
  • when moving from one group to another (visiting) that involves contact with infants and toddlers/twos
Additional required handwashing for adults:
  • before and after feeding a child
  • after assisting a child with toileting
  • after handling garbage or cleaning
  • before and after administering medication
Proper handwashing procedures for adults and children:
  • use liquid soap and running water
  • rub hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds, including back of hands, wrists, between fingers, under and around any jewelry and under fingernails
  • rinse well
  • dry hands with a single-use paper towel
  • avoid touching the faucet with just-washed hands (use the paper towel to turn off water)
Other notes
  • Except when handling blood or body fluids that might contain blood (when wearing gloves is required), wearing gloves is an optional supplement, but not a substitute, for handwashing in any required handwashing situation listed above.
  • Do not use handwashing sinks for bathing children or removing smeared fecal material.
  • Sinks used for handwashing after diapering or toileting MUST be separate from sinks and areas used for food preparation and food service.
  • Using sanitizer instead of handwashing is not recommended for childcare settings. If sanitizer is used as a temporary measure, the amount used must keep the hands wet for 15 seconds.

Meals and snacks

OVERVIEW

When children sit and eat together, it’s a chance for them to interact in a more informal way with staff members, for staff to model prosocial behavior, and for children to socialize with each other.

Parents are responsible for bringing in meals and drinks for infants and toddlers. Preschool children must bring a meal and drink. Depending on the site, First Circle provides morning and afternoon snacks, and water to drink in the preschool classrooms.

We choose a variety of snacks that are low in sugar and fat. EEC requires the weekly snack menu to be posted. We keep a supply of meals and snacks on hand for children whose parents have forgotten to bring them from home. We also supply paper plates, bowls, cups, utensils, and bibs, but parents are welcome to supply their own.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

Meals and snacks are scheduled for the children’s developmental stage. Educators should follow these guidelines when serving meals and snacks:

  • Educators should be present, interact with, and assist children.
  • Allow children to eat a well-balanced diet at a reasonable, leisurely rate.
  • Encourage children to serve themselves when appropriate.
  • Ensure each child receives an adequate amount and variety of food.
  • Help children with disabilities to participate in meal and snack times with their peers.
  • Offer activities for children who have finished their snack or meal.
  • Serve water in pitchers at snack time. Offer water to children at frequent intervals and upon request.
  • Never pressure a child to eat or drink, or to stop eating or drinking, unless it is for health and/or safety reasons.

FOOD HANDLING

  • Educators must wash hands before preparing meals and snacks.
  • Children must wash hands before and, if necessary, after mealtimes.
  • You may only give a child food that has been provided by First Circle or by their parent.
  • If you drink a beverage in the classroom, you must use a covered container.
  • Make sure all food containers belonging to a child are labeled. If not, mark the container with the child’s name, and remind parents of our policy.
  • If a child misses lunch or snack due to deviations from their regular schedule, offer a substitute meal at a different time.

CLEAN-UP

  • Encourage children to help clean up, put away their own things, etc.
  • Please return any unused snack in a sealed plastic bag or container to the snack area in a timely manner.
  • After children have finished eating, clean/sanitize/sweep tables, chairs, and floors.

FOOD SAFETY

For the health and safety of the children, we must prepare and serve food and drink in a safe and sanitary manner. All First Circle staff are trained in food health and safety. We follow these guidelines and require that parents do too:

  • New foods:

    For infants and toddlers, new foods must be introduced at home.

  • Temperature:

    For toddlers and preschool, parents must include an ice pack in an insulated cooler for all food requiring refrigeration. We store infants’ food in a refrigerator in each classroom. The refrigerator temperature is between 32-40 degrees verified by a refrigerator thermometer and logged monthly.

  • Allergies:

    Classrooms have Special Care Plans, Allergy Action Plans, and other pertinent paperwork for children with food allergies or special dietary needs. Please see Health + Safety for detailed information about prevention, management, and treatment.

  • Nut-Free:

    We are a peanut and tree nut-free program. All the snacks we serve are nut-free. We do not allow any nut products to be sent to school and require that parents check food labels and packaging. This includes nuts in muffins or bread and of course, peanut butter (however, soy nut and sunflower butter are fine!). If a parent sends a nut product to school, remind them that we are nut-free to keep children safe.

  • Storage and Sanitation
    • All food to be consumed during the day must be brought in containers labeled with the child’s name.
    • Any food that has not been served to the child must be sent home at night. As required by EEC, educators must dispose of, or return to the parent, milk, formula, or food unfinished by a child, as directed by the parent.
  • Choking hazards:

    Over 10,000 children each year end up in the emergency room because of food-choking injuries. Per advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), First Circle requires that children’s food be sent to school as follows:

    • Vegetables like carrots, celery, and green beans should be diced, shredded, or cooked and cut up.
    • Fruits like grapes, cherry tomatoes, and melon balls must be cut into quarters.
    • Meats (especially hot dogs) and cheeses must be cut into very small pieces or shredded.
    • Hard candy and gum are not allowed at First Circle.

DAILY SHEETS FOR INFANTS and TODDLERS

Ask parents to note in Procare Engage any food preference or intolerance, any change in patterns or schedules at home, and any other information that can help us best support their child.

If you’re assigned to the infant classroom, record what was offered, what time you started and ended the feeding, and how much was consumed. Note any preference or intolerance, and any observations related to developmental changes in feeding and nutrition.

INFANTS

Mealtimes are an opportunity to completely focus on the infant and have quality one-on-one interaction. Hold children to drink their bottle, and when they are ready to hold their own bottle, support their learning to feed independently. Feed infants in a highchair. Sit with them either to help feed or support their self-feeding skills. You should make lots of eye contact, smile, speak softly, narrate what is happening, tell a story, or sing a song.

Breastfeeding
  • First Circle is committed to providing a breastfeeding-friendly environment for our enrolled children and staff. Nursing mothers are welcome to come and nurse their infants at any time.
  • Breast milk must be labeled “breast milk” so that it is stored and handled appropriately.
Supplies/storage
  • Parents must bring in pre-made formula and/or breast milk each day in plastic bottles (no glass) with all parts of the bottle labeled with the infant’s first name and initial of last name.
  • Because babies occasionally need more food than their parents have provided, parents should provide extra breast milk or formula to be stored in our freezer (frozen breast milk must be labeled with an expiration date and can be stored up to 3 months).
  • Refrigerate infants’ meals and bottles. We have storage available for dry, non-perishable food and formula.
Serving
  • Heat infant bottles in hot water, never in a microwave. (Heat the water in microwave instead of running hot water on the bottle.)
  • A bottle offered to an infant and partially consumed must be disposed of after 1 hour unless requested otherwise.
  • Infants are fed on an individualized feeding plan. Parents suggest timelines, but you are responsible for interpreting the child’s requirements and adjusting the schedule as needed.
  • Do not feed an infant directly from a baby food jar. Pour a portion of the jar into a bowl, refilling as necessary.
  • Infants who cannot hold a bottle must be held while being fed. Do NOT prop bottles.
  • Wash and sanitize any serving utensils and bowls after use.
  • Clean, sanitize and rinse highchair trays before and after each use.

TODDLERS and PRESCHOOLERS

Toddlers and preschoolers eat as a group and follow a group schedule. However, if a child is hungry and a snack or mealtime is not scheduled soon, offer them a choice from the foods they have brought to meet their individual needs.

Parents are asked to supply food based on their child’s schedule. All food for the day must fit into the child’s lunchbox or a separate insulated container. We do not have additional refrigerators in all classrooms.

  • At least one educator must sit with the children to eat and engage them in conversation. Mealtime is a social time and should be shared within the classroom—if you wish to save your lunch for your break, you may choose to eat healthy snack food to be a good model for the children.
  • Children must be allowed free access to beverages throughout the day.
  • If you choose to eat in the classroom, it must be at shared meal or snack times.
  • When serving snack to children, be aware of any special dietary needs.
  • If a parent sends in a choking hazard, you must return the item.
  • You must wear gloves when distributing snack (to preschoolers only). Use a measuring device for portion control.
  • Clean and sanitize the area used to prepare snacks and serve lunch prior to and after each use.
  • If a parent has not provided a lunch, you must call the parent and ask if they can bring a meal, or if you can serve whatever is available from the snack supply area.
  • Whenever possible, encourage preschoolers to serve themselves, improving skills such as independence and counting.

Rest time

Children attending school for 4 hours or more are required by EEC to sleep, rest, or engage in a quiet activity as appropriate to their needs. Please be respectful of the rest times of neighboring classrooms.

BEDDING

Parents must bring the following supplies labeled with their child’s name or initials:

  • Sleeping bag or standard crib sheet and blanket
  • Two pacifiers (if desired)
  • Small pillow (if desired)
  • Stuffed animal, doll or sleeping support (to be kept in cubby until nap time)
  • Parents must take home all bedding at the end of their scheduled week to be laundered.

Rest time routines

Infants and safe sleep policy

A baby is most at risk of SIDS between the ages of 2-4 months and during the first few weeks of a new childcare arrangement. Children younger than 6 months at the time of enrollment must be always under additional direct visual supervision, including while napping, during the first 6 weeks they are in our care.

  • All infants under 12 months of age must be placed to sleep on their back in a high-quality wooden, safety-rated crib free of pillows, comforters, stuffed animals, and other soft, padded materials.
  • Once placed on their backs to sleep, infants may be allowed to assume any comfortable sleep position when they can easily turn themselves over from the back position.
  • If an infant falls asleep in a bouncy seat, swing, or car seat, they must be moved to their crib and placed on their back.
  • Some families may have written permission from their health care provider authorizing the infant to sleep in a position other than on their back in a crib. In these cases, the Alternative Sleep Plan must be kept in the child’s file and in the classroom. All educators involved in the infant’s care must be notified and a notice posted by the crib.
  • Babies may have a sleep sack.
  • Infants over 12 months of age may use a blanket in the crib or on a mat.
  • Do not wake a sleeping infant unless it is for medical needs.
Toddlers and Preschoolers

Rest time occurs after lunch until about 2:30 p.m. Dim the lights, play restful music, and assist children as necessary to get to sleep. Children need less daytime sleep as they grow, so younger children may sleep for 2 or more hours during rest time, while older children may wake sooner or not nap at all.

  • Children should begin the rest period on their mats and be encouraged to rest there.
  • If a child that usually sleeps is not sleepy, rub their back, or provide other support so that they fall asleep.
  • You MUST respond to children who need support during rest time. It is unacceptable to continuously tell a child to “get on your mat” and offer no support for them.
  • If a child hasn’t fallen asleep after 45 minutes, they should not be required to keep trying.
  • Children who are awake after 45 minutes MUST be given alternate activities on their mats, at tables, or in another quiet area such as books, magnet boards, or puzzles.
  • Staff in classrooms with children who are awake should encourage a reasonable amount of quiet— avoid banging, jumping, or high energy activities, and use inside voices.
  • If a parent requests a limit to rest time, work with them to determine what is best for the child’s needs. Advise the parent that if they request the child does not sleep, you will not help the child get to sleep but will not keep them forcibly awake. One suggestion is to position the child’s mat in a high traffic area and allow them to have activities earlier than other children to help them stay awake.

PROHIBITED PRACTICES

  • Never put an infant to sleep in a car seat, swing, or bouncy seat, unless we have medical authorization for those alternate sleep positions.
  • For infants under 12 months, you must not have any toys, loose bedding, pillows, or stuffed animals in a crib.
  • Never speak harshly to children having a difficult time or ignore requests for activities—you are required to engage with children who need help.
  • Never restrain or force a child to lie down or stay on their mat or rest.

Toothbrushing

*Currently suspended until further notice

All children must brush their teeth for 2 minutes (with as much assistance as necessary, based on each child’s individual skills) when they are in care for more than 4 hours or after they consume a meal at First Circle.

Clothing

Parents are advised to send their child to school dressed in comfortable clothing and shoes for active play. We want children to be comfortable to play freely in their classroom and outside. Each classroom should provide parents with required seasonal clothing lists.

SEASONALLY CORRECT CLOTHING

  • For the winter, coat, snow pants, boots, gloves, hat
  • For the summer, bathing suit, water shoes, hat, and sunglasses if desired
  • Appropriate footwear: rubber-soled shoes or tennis shoes/sneakers are best; dress shoes are discouraged. For safety’s sake, all shoes must have backs or backstraps.

Playground

By EEC regulations a minimum of 60 minutes of age-appropriate gross motor activity (outside, inside, or a combination of both) must be incorporated into each full-time child’s day.

Toddler and preschool children must be taken outside every day, weather permitting. Staff may be advised to stay inside if it is raining or snowing heavily, if the heat index is above 90°F, or if the temperature (including wind chill) falls below 15°F.

During the summer months, and on exceptionally hot days, we limit outside time to before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m. Administration will notify you if an outdoor schedule is adjusted. We provide shaded areas on each playground.

Management

Teaching teams should work with the children in your class to establish cooperative play and safety “rules” for the playground. The rules you create and communicate to the children should include the following:

  • No crashing bikes into the gates, doors, or each other.
  • No kicking or throwing balls toward the building or fences.
  • No standing on the swings.
  • Which objects (man-made and natural) stay on the ground, and which can be thrown or tossed.

Bring water outside for children every day—remember to bring it in when you come in.

Maintenance

All educators are required to:

  • Periodically rake mulch into any low spots under swings or climbing equipment.
  • Bring back anything that you or the children brought outside.

Morning playground check

  • Pick up any trash.
  • When needed, empty barrel, replace bag, and replace lid tightly.
  • Sweep paved areas.
  • Dispose of broken toys (and advise an administrator when you do).
  • Make sure all paths are clear in case of evacuation.

Evening playground check

  • Place all trash in barrels; replace lid tightly.
  • When needed, move barrel inside to be emptied.
  • Place all small toys in storage bins.
  • Move all large toys under canopies or in bike shed.
  • Park bikes neatly in shed or against the wall on the playground.
  • Bring in any children’s belongings.
  • Coil hose after use.
  • Bring in blankets/mats and store strollers.

Sunscreen

We are vigilant about ensuring that children use sunscreen before going outside from May through September. We encourage parents to provide hats, sun-protective clothing, and sunglasses for use at school.

We require that families apply sunscreen to their child prior to arriving at First Circle. If a parent has forgotten to do that, provide them with center sunscreen to apply before they depart. If the parent wishes to apply aerosol spray sunscreen, ask them to do so outside.

With morning sunscreen already applied, educators do not need to apply it for morning playground time. As part of the enrollment and reregistration process and documentation, parents authorize their consent to use the school supplied Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, or must provide an Authorization for Topical Medication Form if they choose to provide their own brand of sunscreen.

Sunscreen must be applied to each child for afternoon playground time. To apply sunscreen:

  • Use gloves.
  • Apply at least 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Re-apply if more than 2 hours has passed and you are going outside again.
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, especially arms, legs, shoulders, face, and ears.
  • Store sunscreen out of children’s reach.

insect repellants

Some parents may choose to provide insect repellent for us to apply daily between May and September. An authorization for topical application form must be completed for it to be applied. Please follow instructions for application and use on the product.

Departure

End of the day

  • Once inside the classroom, “quiet time” should be planned so children can wind down from the day, families can pick them up in a more relaxed environment, and educators can begin to clean up the classroom.
  • Suggested quiet time activities are circle time, reading, puzzles, pegs, or table activities. Give children choices that help them with the transition.

PARENT RESPONSIBILITIES

We ask families to arrive on time at the end of the day. We encourage parents to come early enough to allow time for visiting before their child’s scheduled departure time. When picking up, parents have been advised to:

  • Connect with the teacher in the classroom, letting you know they are picking up.
  • Check cubby for artwork or projects, notices, or correspondence from the center.
  • Take any refrigerated food (even unused), lunch boxes, bottles, etc.
  • Remain with their child, supervising their safety and following classroom rules, until they both leave the premises. They should not let their child leave the classroom or building without them.

EDUCATOR RESPONSIBILITIES

Every staff member should be familiar with each child’s pickup time, and each family’s pickup style. Parents need to inform you when they pick up their child. Remind them to supervise and stay with their children until they leave the premises.

  • COMPLETELY fill out daily info electronically for each child and prepare any paperwork for parents.
  • Morning staff must brief afternoon staff, so they can inform parents at the end of the day.
  • Check children’s belongings prior to pickup to avoid any missing bottles, cups, socks, blankets, clothing, etc.
  • Make sure any mark or scratch on a child has an Injury Report documenting it, whether the injury was witnessed or not. Morning staff must inform afternoon staff about an injury so they can communicate it to the family.
  • Greet the parent or authorized pickup, and give a summary of the child’s day, including the child’s mood, eating, toileting, and nap. Tell at least one positive story about the child’s day.
  • Remind families to take artwork, paperwork, and all unconsumed bottles, cups, and food.
  • Make sure parents take home all sleeping supplies for washing on the last scheduled day of the week.
  • Mark the child’s departure time on the classroom attendance sheet and adjust the head count. Make sure each educator in the classroom knows the number of children in their care at all times.

EXTENDED DAY

In some sites, we have an extended day option after 5:00 p.m. for an additional fee. Children who stay after 5 p.m. should be grouped together regardless of age. Bring all the children’s belongings into the designated extended day classroom at 5 p.m. Parents are responsible for picking the children up from the classroom and letting the teacher know they are leaving.

AUTHORIZED PICKUP

We cannot overstate the importance of making sure that a child is picked up by an authorized person. All employees must know this policy and follow it without exception.

  • If a person other than a parent or guardian is picking up, they must be listed as an Authorized Pickup on the child’s Information Sheet or have a written (note, email, fax) note of authorization from the parent. Under no circumstances can we release a child to a person who does not have written authorization, even if the child and a staff member are familiar with the person. This includes First Circle staff or parents of other First Circle children. When in doubt, consult with Administration.
  • Before releasing a child to someone unfamiliar to you (including parents), educators must obtain a picture ID to make sure it matches the Information Sheet or note. If another staff person can identify the person, the photo ID match is not required.
  • Educators should not allow themselves to be intimidated, hurried, or bullied by anyone attempting to pick up a child, regardless of their relationship to the child. If you are not 100% certain that the person is authorized to pick up, you may not release the child to this person and must seek immediate assistance from an Administrator.
  • Staff at First Circle have their own responsibilities in the classroom. Therefore, only staff who are not scheduled to work until closing can be an alternate pickup.
  • All rules for pickup and dropoff also apply to staff members’ own children at First Circle, or staff members picking up or dropping off other children.

LATE PICKUP

If children are still in attendance after closing, a teacher will be asked to stay with a member of Administration until the last parent picks up. The teacher must complete a Late Pickup form for the family when they arrive to pick up their child. The form outlines the time and fee that will be charged. Families are not charged for the first time they are late, although you should still submit a form. Families who arrive after closing are charged a late fee of $10 for any part of the first 10 minutes after closing, and $5 per minute after that. The fee is determined by the time they leave First Circle. The late fee is paid directly to the teacher and can either be paid directly at the time of pickup or included with their next tuition payment. Teachers are paid their regular hourly rate (minus taxes) for their time with the next paycheck.

When families arrive late to pick up children who are scheduled to depart at 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., the same procedure applies; however, late fees are not paid to the staff member. They are given to the classroom budget if the fee exceeds $20.00.

CUSTODY ARRANGEMENTS

Parenting arrangements can change over time. If the legal custody status of a child enrolled at First Circle is changed by court order, parents must give us a copy of legal documents immediately. We cannot withhold release of a child to their parent without legal documentation.

Once official custodial papers are obtained, we will work with parents to develop a plan to comply with the legal requirements. All administrators, front office staff, and the child’s teachers will be informed of the custody change. If a parent legally loses custody of a child, steps will immediately be taken to revoke the non-authorized parent’s access to the center.

SAFE TRANSPORT

Children need to be transported safely. Use of drugs or alcohol or the lack of use of an appropriate car seat can create an unsafe transportation situation. If you are concerned that a child cannot be safely transported, you must immediately let Admin know. We will not release the child to the individual and will contact an alternate pickup person instead.

Closing

Closing the classroom

The afternoon staff is responsible for closing tasks. The closing teacher is responsible for making sure these tasks are completed:

  • Sanitize and put away classroom toys in appropriate bins and shelves.
  • Clear all clutter from the tops of cubbies and blue cabinets, entrance counters, etc.
  • Put bag of mouthed toys into the dishwasher, if applicable.
  • Fill sanitizer bottles for next day.
  • Make a note for morning staff about anything that happened on your shift.
  • Lock all doors AND WINDOWS.
  • Turn off radios, fans, CD players, and noise machines.
  • Remove changing table pads, sweep out sand, spray with sanitizer, wipe clean, re-apply sanitizer, and let air dry.
  • Follow cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting poster.
  • Move any classroom laundry washed throughout the day to dryer.
  • Bring any paperwork to office.

Cleaning, sanitizing + disinfecting

Housekeeping

General Guidelines

  • Restock any supplies that are running low from the shed or supply areas (refer to stocking schedule posted in the bathroom).
  • Let an administrator know if supplies are running low.
  • Put items away when you have finished using them.
  • DO NOT leave dirty dishes or paintbrushes in the sink “to soak.” Wash them immediately and put them away.
  • In Lexington, do not leave toys or other items in or around the water table.
  • Do not store things anywhere but in your classroom without prior approval from Admin.

General Tasks

All educators are responsible to:

  • Restock all paper supplies—spoons, forks, gloves, plates, tissues, paper towels, diapers/wipes, diaper paper, diaper bags.
  • Put away supplies from morning activities and clean off tops of cubbies.
  • Bring all laundry (bibs, cleaning cloths, etc.) to the laundry room—load and start the washer.
  • Use early morning/late afternoon (when numbers are low) to perform general housekeeping tasks; use rest time to perform larger cleaning and housekeeping duties.
  • Keep clutter from accumulating on top of the cubbies, cabinets, counters, etc.

cleaning guidelines

Cleaning is essential to classroom management. It maintains safety, provides children with an organized and healthy environment, and preserves the longevity of furniture and equipment. All tabletops, diaper areas, toys, and school materials used by children must be cleaned and sanitized with a sanitizer, laundered in a washing machine, or washed in a dishwasher. The frequency of usage and whether the object is mouthed determine the frequency of cleaning. The chart posted in each classroom lists cleaning frequencies which must be followed with no exceptions.

Daily tasks

  • Clean microwave and wipe down the lunch counter after lunch.
  • Use carpet sweeper/dustpan to clean food off the floor.
  • Sweep debris out of diaper tables throughout the day.

Weekly Tasks

All educators are responsible for coordinating with their classroom team to accomplish the following tasks weekly, or as needed:

  • Launder all dress-up clothes and soft toys on your scheduled day.
  • Wash all toys in dishwasher or Zono on your scheduled day.
  • Sanitize cribs and mattresses—this should also occur between use by different children.
  • Bring in barrels from the playground for cleaners to empty trash.
  • Clean and sanitize vinyl furniture, push and riding toys.
  • Empty classroom refrigerator, if applicable, and clean shelves and drawers.
  • In infant classroom, launder (if available) swing and exersaucer seats, bouncy seats, and boppy covers.
  • Wipe down windowsills and cubbies (inside, outside, and top).

cleaners

First Circle employs a professional cleaning company to clean the building nightly including ONLY:

  • cleaning and sanitizing bathrooms and kitchen area
  • emptying diaper pails and trash receptacles
  • vacuuming carpets and mopping floors

The carpets are cleaned and disinfected on a quarterly basis. To minimize airborne bacteria and improve air quality, the duct system and air vents are cleaned and deodorized periodically.

infection

Types of infections

There are four types of infectious diseases:

Virus (colds, chicken pox, flu, Covid)
  • frequently get better on their own
  • limited treatment, other than rest and control of symptoms
  • few medications treat viruses
Bacteria (strep throat, TB, e-coli)
  • often need treatment with antibiotics
Fungus (ringworm, thrush, diaper rash)
  • often on surfaces of body and can be treated with creams or oral medications
Parasite (head lice, Giardia, malaria)
  • typically causes diarrhea
  • often needs treatment with antiparasitic medications

HOW INFECTIONS SPREAD

Airborne

Viruses can spread in the air as small droplets or tiny aerosol particles. Germs can spread to the hands by sneezing, coughing, or rubbing the eyes and then can be transferred to others. Simply washing your hands can help prevent such illnesses as the common cold or eye infections.

Fecal-oral

Germs such as norovirus and rotavirus can cause gastroenteritis, leading to diarrhea and/or vomiting. Usually, germs are transmitted from unclean hands to food or hands by someone who didn’t wash their hands after using the toilet. This is easily prevented by always washing your hands after using the toilet and before preparing food items.

Contact

Some infections spread directly when skin or mucous membrane (many parts of the body such as the nose, mouth, throat, and genitals) comes in contact with the skin or mucous membrane of another person. Infections spread indirectly when skin or mucous membrane comes in contact with contaminated objects or surfaces.

HOW WE COMBAT INFECTION

Each staff member is trained in infection control procedures upon hire and every year thereafter.

Gloves

To reduce the spread of germs and the risk of exposure to disease, use single-use vinyl gloves for:

  • toileting or diapering
  • handling bodily fluids (e.g., blood, runny nose)
  • applying topical medications (e.g., ophthalmic ointment for conjunctivitis)
  • applying sunscreen
Sanitizer/Disinfectant

We do not use bleach and water because it irritates skin, is corrosive, and stains furniture and clothing. Most importantly, bleach can exacerbate symptoms in those with asthma and breathing issues.

We use a hospital-grade disinfectant cleaner called Oxivir Five 16. Oxivir is an EPA-approved cleaner and disinfectant that kills a variety of bacteria and viruses and is environmentally friendly. Oxivir is effective against the AIDS virus, hepatitis B and C, staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), salmonella, avian flu, COVID-19, and norovirus.

Oxivir Five 16 comes in a concentrate that we dilute (10 oz. to 5 gallons of water).

Dishwasher/Washing Machine

Some locations have a dishwasher and washing machine to launder and sanitize toys, bibs, and cleaning cloths.

Disposable materials

Any items that come in contact with blood, vomit, or other bodily fluids must be cleaned thoroughly with disposable materials and a sanitizing solution. For vomit, scoop it up (either with paper towels or paper plates) and then sanitize and dry the area (any materials used in cleaning up vomit must be bagged before disposal). All contaminated materials and/or clothing must be double-bagged and sent home, all clean-up materials placed in a plastic bag and disposed of in a covered trash can.

Building Air Purification System

Most of our schools have an air purification system installed directly into the HVAC system. The Reme Halo system kills microbes in the air and on surfaces. Dual ionizers reduce airborne particulates (dust, dander, pollen, mold spores), which help alleviate allergies, and are proven to kill up to 99% of bacteria, mold, and viruses.

Zono Sanitizing Cabinet

Most programs have a ZONO Ozone Cabinet. The Zono kills 99.99% of common viruses on surfaces and can sanitize items used for play and education like books, puzzles, game pieces, exersaucers, mobiles, sleeping mats, and even crayons. It requires no wiping or rinsing of items and leaves no residue.

difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting

When it comes to germs, the most effective steps to take are cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. What’s the difference? Based on Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines, we define them as follows:

Cleaning

Cleaning is the process of removing soil from surfaces with a cloth or wipe and detergent, soap, or sanitizer. Cleaning does not kill or thoroughly remove bacteria or viruses from surfaces, but it is still essential. You should always clean before sanitizing and disinfecting because it improves the effectiveness of each process.

To clean hard surfaces, spray with Oxivir Five 16 and wipe/scrub using cloth towels whenever possible. (Note: if a surface is particularly dirty, you can also use soapy water as a first cleaning step without harmful interactions using Oxivir.)

Sanitizing

Sanitizing (after cleaning) is the proper treatment for most equipment and surfaces in Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs. Sanitizing reduces germs to levels considered safe by public health codes and regulations. We sanitize using Oxivir Five 16 or using the Zono cabinet.

Sanitize+

For fabric and mouthed toys, sanitize in the washing machine, dishwasher, or Zono.

Rinsing

After sanitizing with Oxivir, any surfaces that come into contact with food or a child’s mouth must be wiped, sprayed with water, and wiped again to rinse off any residue.

Disinfecting

Disinfecting (after cleaning) is the proper treatment for surfaces or equipment where safe contact requires a more powerful response to germs (such as surfaces involved with toileting and diapering).

To disinfect, clean first and then spray hard nonfood contact surfaces with Oxivir Five 16 and allow to air dry (should remain wet for 5 minutes).

cleaning supplies

Oxivir is our go-to cleaner. For bigger messes, in schools with a washing machine, use the mop and fill it with water (not sanitizer) to avoid any corrosion. In schools without a washing machine, we use a Swiffer.

schedule of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting

The frequency of usage and whether the object is mouthed determines the cleaning frequency. The chart posted in each classroom lists cleaning frequencies which must be followed with no exceptions. Oxivir is our cleaner, sanitizer, and disinfectant, depending on the amount of time left on the surface.

  • Remove mouthed item when the child is done and place it in the mesh wash bag in the classroom. When bag is full, place in dishwasher or Zono. When done, hang bag to allow toys to air dry/cool. Remember to come back for your bag!
  • Always clean tables before and after a meal with Oxivir. Then reapply, let sit for one minute, spray the table with water, and wipe. Spray chairs (including sides and bottom) with Oxivir, clean, reapply Oxivir, and let dry for one minute after each meal.
  • In infant classrooms, spray the bouncy seats, exersaucers, and other equipment with Oxivir, clean, re-apply Oxivir, and let air dry after each use. Spray exersaucer toys or any other equipment/toys that come in contact with a child’s mouth with water after one minute and wipe down.
  • Wash hands after using Oxivir sanitizer.
  • Spray toys on shelves and let air dry.

Toileting + diapering

diapering

overview

Regular and frequent diaper changing is part of the everyday routine at First Circle. We strictly follow the requirements and guidelines for safety and sanitation from the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Department of Public Health (DPH). The step-by-step procedure posted over every changing table must be followed without exception [see Appendix].

Specifically:

  • Diapers must be changed or checked every 2 hours, or immediately after a child has had a bowel movement.
  • Educators record on a daily sheet (paper or electronic) the time of each diapering, whether the child was wet or had a bowel movement, and any additional information.
  • Each changing table is disinfected after each use.
  • Children and teachers must wash hands after each change.

Diapering is an important opportunity for one-on-one interaction and for modeling language, learning about self-care and personal hygiene, and building trust between caregiver and child. We encourage children to participate by lifting their legs and bottom, holding their feet, holding the diaper in place, and then progressing to pulling pants up or down, and washing/drying their hands.

Families provide diapering supplies, including diapers, wipes, creams, and ointments as desired. Due to aspiration and irritation risks, we do not allow talcum powder or cornstarch. If a child experiences diaper rash, we suggest to parents an over-the-counter diaper cream or petroleum jelly. Please note, as required by EEC [see Health & Safety section]:

  • Non-prescription topical ointments and sprays such as diaper creams, petroleum jelly, etc., can only be administered to a child with a signed Topical Medication Authorization form. Forms are valid for one year.
  • To apply topical ointments to wounds or broken skin, First Circle must have an Authorization for Medication form signed by the child’s healthcare provider.

toilet learning

overview

We use the term “toilet learning” instead of “toilet training” because learning implies children play an active role. Children need attuned, communicative parents and educators to support and facilitate the toilet learning process, which is individual to each child. Our commitment is to partner with family to make it as easy and smooth a transition as possible for all.

Your job as an educator is to:

  • wait until the child has shown most of the readiness signals
  • proceed slowly and take cues from the child
  • teach children words for body parts, and the process
  • create an environment to ensure success (such as a potty seat or small potty, etc.)
  • expect and handle “accidents” without emotion
  • avoid punishment and excessive praise around toilet use (it can make children feel bad when they aren’t successful)
  • assist parents in helping children master the process

Children should never be forced to use the toilet before they are ready, nor disciplined for accidents or for refusing to use the bathroom. The purpose of toilet learning is to help children gain control of their bodily functions. If a child is ready, the process can provide a sense of success and achievement. If a child is not ready, toilet learning becomes an unnecessary struggle for control between adults and children.

AVERAGE AGE

The physical maturity and readiness skills needed for toilet learning appear in girls and boys between the ages of 18 and 30 months. The average age to complete training is 29 months for girls, 31 months for boys, but these are just averages. Ninety-eight percent of children have completed toilet learning by 36 months. The time is right when a child naturally begins displaying signs of toilet readiness, and their family is physically ready for the learning to begin.

PREPARING TODDLERS

You should begin the experience with children at the diaper table. Encourage skills like pulling up and down their pants. Engage children in conversations about the bathroom. Take toddlers to the toilet and encourage them to sit on it at every diaper change. Create a supportive and pressure-free environment that encourages a child’s natural curiosity about the toileting process.

READINESS INDICATORS

Effective toilet learning doesn’t begin until the child shows signs they are physically, cognitively, and emotionally ready. There is no “right” age or stage to start. Cultural differences in handling toilet learning make it important to communicate with families so they can best support the child in this process.

There are 3 types of readiness signs:

Physical

Bladder and bowel capacity and muscle control are crucial to mastering toilet learning and develop at different times in children. There can be many months between the age children begin to recognize they are wet and when they can hold their urine for an extended period of time. The child will need to have:

  • ability to stay dry for at least 2 hours
  • ability to walk, pull pants up and down independently, and get onto/off of the toilet (with help)
  • awareness of the need to go – (squatting, grunting, going red in the face, hiding and/or pointing to wet or soiled clothes and asking to be changed)
  • some regularity of bowel movements
Cognitive/language skills

The toilet learning process combines physical and cognitive tasks. The child must learn and become familiar with their body and functions, associate the physical sensation with the proper response, picture what they want to do, create a plan to get to the potty, get there, pull down clothing, then use the potty. They need to remain there long enough to finish, which requires memory and concentration. They must also understand and respond to instructions. Cognitive/language skills necessary for toilet learning are the ability to:

  • have a vocabulary for toilet learning (pee, poop, BM, potty, wet/dry, pants)
  • follow instructions
  • play symbolically
  • plan, problem-solve, and remember
  • imitate and model behavior
Emotional

Emotional readiness usually comes last and is both the most fragile, and the most powerful. The child should not be afraid of the toilet, and use “pretend” bathroom behavior.

The most important sign of readiness is a desire to use the toilet. Not every sign needs to be present for you to suggest to parents to start toilet learning. If you/parents notice a few signs, a child may be ready to try, but if you’re not sure whether the child is ready, it’s probably better to wait a little longer. Problems in toilet learning usually arise because adults ignore the child’s lack of interest and/or readiness.  A child is emotionally ready for toilet learning when they:

  • master their body and environment – “I can do it”
  • attain adult approval
  • imitate and be like others
  • understand what the potty/toilet is for

PARTNERING WITH PARENTS

Once a child has shown most of the readiness signs, ask parents to start the process.

Steps parents can take

As each child’s individual signs of readiness and curiosity about the bathroom emerge, tell parents they should encourage toilet learning by:

  • walking into the bathroom together and then alone to see the toilet
  • helping them change a wet diaper while standing in the bathroom
  • having the child try to take off a wet diaper inside the bathroom
  • having the child practice pulling his/her pants down and up before and after diaper changes until it is routine
  • encouraging the child to try the toilet
  • giving the child a wipe to practice with

Parents should always be nearby supervising.

At home

Preparing the environment at home for success is critical. See the Parent Handbook “At Home” section for specific information about what parents can do to set the environment at home.

Once a child has consistently practiced sitting on the potty, flushing the toilet, pulling pants up and down, and is asking or showing interest in taking the next step, it’s time to begin. This should be a consistent and calm time in the household. When children are going through a significant change, it is advisable to wait. Common situations that cause stress and are not a good time to start the final phase of toilet learning include:

  • an upcoming or recent family move
  • beginning new childcare arrangements (or a new classroom)
  • switching from a crib to a bed
  • when parent is about to have or has recently had a new baby
  • if there is a major illness, a recent death, or some other family crisis
  • during the holidays
AT SCHOOL

During the early stages of toilet learning, children are usually more successful at home than at school because they can be so busy playing at school they don’t recognize the need to use the toilet until it’s too late. You should encourage them to practice their toilet learning by:

  • visiting the toilet after naps and about 45 minutes after meals or snacks
  • asking them frequently if they would like to go to the toilet
  • reminding them to “check themselves” for feelings, signals, or sensations that they need to use the toilet (pay close attention to children’s body language, and when you see “cues,” use a phrase like, “When you’re wiggling like that it shows me that you may need to use the bathroom.”)
  • taking off a wet diaper inside the bathroom and trying the toilet regularly with occasional success
  • removing a dry diaper inside the bathroom and using the toilet with frequent success
  • instructing the child on how to wipe properly, and assisting them as needed

DRESSING FOR SUCCESS

underwear

Underwear is the final phase of toilet mastery. Children should wear cloth underwear all day at home for several days (a long weekend is best) before wearing them to school. Wearing diapers and pull-ups is a familiar sensation so many children prefer their convenience to the hard work of transitioning to underwear. Advise parents to pick a weekend or certain day to say good-bye to diapers during the day and transition to underwear.

pullups

Children can successfully transition from diapers to underwear without the use of pull-ups. It’s important for children to recognize that their diaper is wet to develop a connection between the physical sensation of going to the bathroom and the result in their pants. When compared to a diaper, pull-ups reduce the amount of wetness a child feels against their skin. While pull-ups are marketed as “practice underwear,” they can be confusing for children as they figure out how to use the toilet. We therefore advise parents to skip pull-ups and go straight to underwear.

convenience

Children should be dressed for success at school and able to independently put on/take off all their clothing throughout the day. Advise parents to avoid “tricky clothing” like onesies, button pants, overalls, and belts. Pants with snaps or elastic waistbands work best, as they allow for the most ease and independence in dressing and undressing. Make sure the parent has provided plenty of extra underwear and clothing when the child is toilet learning. Although we have extra clothing available, children prefer to put on their own dry clothes.

Consistency

Consistency in routine is crucial to the toilet learning process. Work in partnership with all the child’s caregivers (home, school, grandparents, babysitters, etc.) to be sure the child’s toilet learning process is CONSISTENT AND CONVENIENT.

At school, educators should take the children to the bathroom at regular and consistent intervals throughout the day and provide verbal reminders (“Two more minutes and we’ll save your toys here while we try the bathroom!”). It may also be helpful to use an incentive chart but be sure to make it something that is readily available, and consistently used [See Incentives & Motivators, below].

Work with the family to develop a predictable daily routine to be carried out consistently at home and at school and include:

  • the times the child uses the bathroom
  • the words that are used at home and in school
  • how the child is responded to through words and/or actions
  • the physical steps of the bathroom process
  • how using the toilet will occur in a variety of environments

Accidents

If a child does not make it to the bathroom before their underwear or clothing becomes wet or soiled, respond as follows:

  • Remind them with matter-of-fact language that what has happened is perfectly acceptable, and it happens all the time when kids are toilet learning.
  • Listen to and respond to their words, feelings, or body language to support self-esteem. No child should feel ashamed about wetting or soiling themselves.
  • Help them collect a change of clothing.
  • Help the child clean up and redress. When possible, let the child redress themselves.
  • Follow the child’s lead about whether they would like to wear diapers or underpants. Show the child we believe they can wear underpants again.

Although occasional accidents are normal, if a few more weeks go by and the child still isn’t making it to the toilet—or has no interest in trying — they may not be ready. It’s better to take a step backwards until they show interest.

Incentives and Motivators

Incentives and praise can motivate many children. Building a “Potty Chart” system into the toilet learning process can get a child excited about going to the bathroom and on track for consistent success.

Potty Charts individualized to each child’s motivators are most successful. Earning a sticker (the shinier, the better!) for each successful encounter with the bathroom can happen at several stages:

  • each time the child sits on or stands at the toilet
  • each time the child urinates into the toilet
  • each time the child makes a bowel movement into the toilet

Never take away rewards a child has earned. Phrases like “That’s OK, we’ll try again next time,” can be helpful in situations when a child has had an accident or an attempt on the toilet was unsuccessful.

Setbacks

It’s common for a child that has mastered the toilet learning process to have an accident unexpectedly, and a normal part of the learning process. Sometimes, children are interested in using the toilet one day, but not the next. Here are some common reasons for setbacks:

  • The child is afraid of change and wants to be a baby again. Respect the child’s timing and let them take time off from the hard work of learning to use the toilet.
  • Sometimes, a child fears the toilet. Watch for signs of fear and try putting the feelings into words for the child: “You seem afraid of using the toilet.” or “That toilet sounds very loud, doesn’t it?”
  • Some children have trouble with constipation. Increasing fiber in the child’s diet can help.
  • Toileting can become a power struggle between parent and child. Sometimes a parent insists that the child go, but this is a losing battle that can lead the child to refuse to use the toilet.
  • A child is under stress. Stressful events like moving, a new sibling, and starting a new childcare program can trigger accidents and setbacks.
Nighttime + naptime

The bodily mechanisms that enable a child to hold urine during the day are not the same as those used while sleeping. There may be a delay, sometimes a significant one, between when a child has mastered holding their urine during the day, and when their body is able to hold urine during sleep. Until a child can hold their urine consistently while sleeping, the use of a pull-up for rest time is suggested.

Lack of interest

If a child is over 3 and shows little interest in the toilet, teachers can encourage interest by working on self-help skills (like dressing and undressing), changing the child in the bathroom, and talking excitedly about how to use the toilet. Modeling bathroom behavior and using phrases like “Someday it’ll be your turn,” and “Maybe next time you can try the potty if you want,” can increase interest. It can also be helpful to offer a child a book to read or song to sing while he or she is sitting on the toilet.

TOILETING PROCEDURES

See Appendix for our toileting procedures.

Health, safety + security

We developed our health care policy with guidelines from the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to ensure each child in our care is kept as healthy and safe as possible. A complete copy of our Health Care Policy is available in the office.

prevention and wellness

Prevention

Health and safety are our top priority at First Circle. We focus on preventing illness and accidents before they occur.

Training

We have written policies for reducing the risk of infectious disease and provide annual training to all staff in CPR, Five Rights of Medication Administration, and emergency management.

Nut-Free

We keep First Circle nut-free and latex-free (gloves and band-aids).

Healthcare Consultant

We are required by EEC to have a Healthcare Consultant who is available to the program for consultation as needed. Our pediatric Healthcare Consultant approved this policy and approves our annual First Aid training and training in medication administration for staff.

Healthy habits

We encourage habits that promote good health and prevention of disease and practice them ourselves.

Classroom design

Our classrooms are designed to have separate food preparation, toileting, and diaper changing activities, as well as prevent accidents.

Pets in the classroom

From time to time, First Circle has kept small pets in our classrooms, including gerbils and fish. We have the following policy about pets, per EEC regulations:

  • Pets must be appropriate for the children in care. Before introducing a pet to the program, we must consider the effect on the children’s health and safety, including possible allergies, and notify parents in advance, or prior to the child’s enrollment.
  • Educators must closely supervise all interactions between children and animals and instruct children on safe behavior when close to animals.
  • When pets are kept in the program:
    • ensure that animals, regardless of ownership, are free from disease and parasites and are licensed and/or vaccinated as prescribed by law
    • do not allow children to clean the animal’s cage
    • keep litter boxes inaccessible to children
    • ensure that pets are kept in a safe and sanitary manner
    • do not allow children to have physical contact with reptiles. Reptiles in the program must be kept in accordance with Department of Public Health Guidelines.
Safe environment

First Circle promotes a safe learning and working environment for all children, staff, faculty, and visitors. We do not allow smoking on or around the premises. We strictly prohibit any weapons in our building at any time, including firearms, ammunition, and any other object that could reasonably be perceived as a weapon.

Idling

Massachusetts state law prohibits idling of automobiles, so we tell parents to not leave their car idling. Also, we insist they not leave any children unattended in their vehicle, no matter how briefly!

Healthy routines

Coughing/sneezing

We teach children to sneeze and cough into their elbows to prevent the spread of germs.

Sunscreen

We support sun safety measures at First Circle to minimize a child’s chance of getting skin cancer from excessive sun exposure. [see DAILY PROGRAM MANAGEMENT for detailed information].

Toothbrushing

We assist children in brushing their teeth when they are in care for more than 4 hours or consume a meal at school. [First Circle does not offer toothbrushing at this time.]

Handwashing

We follow strict hand-washing guidelines in all classrooms to reduce the spread of germs. [see DAILY PROGRAM MANAGEMENT].

Safe Sleep Policy

First Circle follows the Safe Sleep procedures implemented by EEC [see DAILY PROGRAM MANAGEMENT].

Children’s Health records

Annual Physical/Immunizations

First Circle Administration ensures that each child enrolled in our program has up-to-date immunizations and an annual physical exam on file.

For parents who have religious or medical objections to their child being immunized, we must have a signed statement (from the doctor for a medical reason or from the parent for religious reasons prior to the child’s first day of enrollment).

Special health conditions

At enrollment, and yearly thereafter at re-registration, we ask parents whether their child has a condition that may impact his or her life in school. Such conditions include:

  • chronic medical conditions requiring special attention
  • developmental, behavioral, or mental health conditions or concerns
  • allergies; medications the child takes on a regular basis; special diet
  • hearing, visual, or dental conditions
  • limitations to physical activity
  • any other emergency response needs

If a child has any of these special requirements, we (together with the parents and/or health care provider) will complete a Special Care Plan (a.k.a. Individual Health Care Plan), a confidential school health record maintained in both the classroom and the child’s file. It contains information, guidelines, and standards that promote a student’s health and educational goals. The Plan describes the nature of the condition, symptoms, any medical treatment that may be necessary while the child is at First Circle, the potential side effects of that treatment, and the potential consequences to the child’s health if the treatment is not administered.

Emergency response plan

For any child with a condition requiring emergency management, an Emergency Response Plan will be completed and on file, in conjunction with a Special Care Plan. The Emergency Response Plan details the health condition, any prescribed medications, triggering events, symptoms/signs to watch for, and action. All educators in a classroom with a child with an Emergency Response Plan will receive training to handle an emergency effectively.

Bloodborne pathogens

Childcare providers may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens when diapering, toileting, feeding, or cleaning up the vomit of children in their care, breaking up fights between children, or if bitten by a child. To protect yourself from bloodborne illnesses, you must follow the steps outlined in DAILY PROGRAM MANAGEMENT.

safety

Supervision

Our highest priority as educators of young children is to keep them safe. This requires effective and consistent supervision. The 6 basic principles of supervision:

1. Prepare
  • Make sure the height and arrangement of furniture and equipment allow effective monitoring and supervision.
  • Scan for potential safety hazards.
  • Ensure equipment is organized for play.
  • Teach children appropriate and safe use of each piece of equipment. (For example, using a slide correctly – feet first only – and teaching why climbing up a slide can cause injury.)
  • Have clear and simple rules for children. (Example: walking feet inside.)
  • Know and follow the daily schedule.
  • Know and maintain staff/child ratio.
2. Position
  • Place yourself so you can see and hear all the children.
  • Make sure there are always clear paths to where children are playing, sleeping, and eating so you can react quickly.
  • Stay close to children who may need additional support.
3. Communicate
  • Listen closely to children to identify signs of potential danger. Specific sounds or the absence of them may signify reason for concern.
  • Pay attention to the sounds of the environment.
  • Maintain communication both inside and outside the facility.
  • Inform a new teacher/assistant entering the classroom of the headcount and any medical restrictions or safety concerns.
4. Scan and count

Maintaining accurate head counts of the children in our care is critical to preparedness. Conducting frequent head counts allows us to identify a missing child and take immediate action. No child should ever be outside the classroom without adult supervision.

  • Know the number and names of children present. Identify children by name to face before and after transitioning from one area or activity to another.
  • Continuously scan the entire environment so you know where each child is and what they are doing.
  • Keep the WEEKLY SIGN IN AND OUT and EMERGENCY CONTACT SHEETS on the same clipboard.
  • Notify any new staff member covering in the classroom (including breaks) of the current count.
  • Enter the time on the sign in and out sheet IMMEDIATELY when a child arrives/departs.
  • Do a headcount before leaving the room with the entire class, and again upon reentering the classroom.
  • If one staff member is taking a small group of children out of the classroom, ensure the remaining educator knows how many and which children are with whom (“I have x number, you have x number”). If necessary, write down the names and cross them off when they return.
5. Anticipate
  • Know each child’s abilities and anticipate children’s behavior.
  • Know who is in charge.
  • Review supervision procedures with facility staff and parents.
  • Be sure you know First Circle’s emergency preparedness plan.
6. Engage and redirect
  • Provide individualized, responsive caregiving and intervene when children are unable to problem-solve on their own.
  • Focus on the positive to teach what is safe for the child and other children.
  • Assist or redirect according to each individual child’s needs.

Classroom safety

We expect you to use common sense and good judgment when performing your duties. Follow these basic safety rules:

Prohibited objects
  • We do not allow latex balloons, glass/ceramic objects, or pushpins in the classrooms.
  • Toys in the classroom must be developmentally appropriate and not a choking hazard.
Keep out of reach at all times
  • educators’ belongings, including backpacks, and pocketbooks
  • scissors, pens, and pencils
  • sanitizer bottles and cleaning materials
  • sunscreen, ointments, and medications
  • hot items (above 110° F), including coffee (Hot liquids must be kept in a travel thermos on the microwave or on top of the cubbies. Do not walk around the classroom with hot liquids.)
  • electrical cords
Safety practices
  • Conduct daily safety checks and remove hazardous or dangerous objects.
  • Wipe up liquid, sand, or other spills from floors immediately.
  • Keep a First Aid kit and a CPR mask in the classroom.
  • Lift heavy objects or children properly by bending your knees.
  • Use a stepstool, not a chair when reaching for overhead items.
  • Wear gloves on both hands when diapering or helping children with toileting or first aid.
  • Know and follow evacuation procedures (a copy of our evacuation routes is posted in each classroom) and assist the children in a safe and comforting manner.
  • Take care handling equipment, cribs, or other cumbersome items.
  • Be wary of strangers in the building and feel comfortable asking strangers their business.
Safety rules for children
  • Children may not climb stairs with toys, stuffed animals, etc. in their hands.
  • Children must sit when eating or drinking.

Playground safety

Teaching teams should work with the children in your class to establish cooperative play and safety “rules” for the playground. The rules you create and communicate to the children should include the following:

Prohibited objects
  • Blankets, pacifiers, stuffed animals, and inside toys are not allowed outside.
  • Children may not wear jewelry or clothing with strings or laces that could become entangled or wedged in playground equipment and present a strangulation hazard. If worn, you must tie or remove them, or have the child change their clothes.
Supplies
  • Have emergency phone information and the attendance list with you on the playground.
  • Bring water outside for children every day—remember to bring it in when you come in.
  • Bring basic first aid items outside, including gauze pads, band aids, and tissues for runny noses.
  • Bring outside the child’s EpiPen for any child requiring an EpiPen for insect bites.
Safety practices
  • Be sure children’s clothes are weather appropriate; if not, borrow from the extra clothing located above the kids’ sinks.
  • Confirm safety mats remain in each fall zone.
  • Supervise and “spot” children when they are on climbing structures.
  • Stay close when the children are on the swings; they can easily fall off.
  • Circulate and monitor all areas of the playground.
  • Notify another staff member if you are taking a bathroom break, bringing in a child for first aid or to the bathroom.
  • Follow established cleaning guidelines for the playground.
Safety rules for children
  • No crashing bikes into the gates, doors, or each other.
  • No kicking or throwing balls toward the building or fences.
  • No standing on the swings.
  • No climbing with anything in children’s hands.
  • No playing near the doors or gates on the playground.
  • Identify which objects (man-made and natural) stay on the ground, and which can be thrown or tossed

Field trip safety

Prior to departure for each field trip, the Director confirms appropriate preparedness is in place. See APPENDIX for full details.

Supplies
  • Take a first aid kit in all vehicles on all field trips, and emergency supplies such as water, snacks, tissues, sunscreen, medicines, emergency consent forms, etc.
  • Be sure you have any emergency EpiPens or Benadryl for children with allergies.
  • Bring current emergency contacts for all children in attendance including contacts and telephone numbers.
  • Have a working cell phone available.
Safety practices
  • On each field trip, we have a Transportation Coordinator in charge in case of emergency. The Transportation Coordinator will designate a co-teacher to assist.
  • We maintain EEC staff-to-child ratios.
  • Each child must wear a distinctive t-shirt to immediately identify them as a child with a First Circle field trip.
  • Each child must wear a wristband with First Circle’s address and phone number.
Emergency
  • If an accident or acute illness occurs while on a field trip, the Transportation Coordinator will take charge of the emergency, assess the situation, and administer first aid as needed, as well as determine the method and urgency of transportation for the child to receive medical treatment, based on the severity of the emergency or illness. If necessary, call 911. The Transportation Coordinator will also make the necessary communications (911, First Circle, parents, etc.).
  • The Transportation Coordinator must notify Administration as soon as possible of the nature and extent of the injury and the proposed plan of action.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INSURANCE PROCEDURE

If you are injured or ill, you are responsible for letting Administration know if you think the injury or illness may cause you to seek medical attention or lose time from work. The procedure must be followed for your medical bills – if any – to be covered by our Workers’ Compensation (WC) insurance:

  • Staff member (or witness) reports injury to member of Administration.
  • We complete a FORM 101 (Employer’s First Report of Injury or Fatality), including as much detail of the injury as possible, within 5 days of the injury.
  • We give the injured employee the following information to be provided to the health care provider: Our insurance carrier’s name, phone number, and policy number as well as the newly assigned case number. Any additional questions should be referred to the Business Manager.
  • If the injury results in just medical bills, or fewer than 5 full or partial calendar days of disability, we will report it to our WC carrier, supplying them with all pertinent information from the form and receiving an assigned case number.
  • If the injury results in 5 or more full or partial calendar days of disability, we will report the injury to the DIA (Department of Industrial Accidents) as well as our WC carrier within 7 days of the injury.
  • All initial medical bills will be covered through our Worker’s Comp Insurance.
  • The employee will be paid only for hours worked, and the day of the injury is considered the first calendar day of disability.
  • The insurance company has 14 calendar days from the date they receive the Employer’s First Report of Injury or Fatality – Form 101 to either:
    • mail a check and the Insurer’s Notification of Payment – Form 103 to the employee;
    • or contest the claim, by sending a certified letter denying compensation via an Insurer’s of Denial – Form 104.
  • The caseworker assigned to the claim will contact the injured employee and all subsequent reasonable and necessary medical treatment needs will be approved.
  • You should start getting a check (60% of total gross average weekly wage) within 3 to 4 weeks after your injury or illness. You will receive compensation for lost wages for any days you are disabled after the first 5 full or partial calendar days. (You are not compensated for the first 5 calendar days of incapacity unless you are disabled for 21 calendar days or more.)

security

Communication

Each classroom has its own phone so you can communicate directly with parents during the day. First Circle does not allow the use of personal cell phones to communicate with parents unless it is an emergency.

  • Emergency phone numbers are posted by every phone.
  • We use Procare Engage to rapidly communicate with parents in the case of an emergency.
  • If we must evacuate, Admin will bring cell phones for any communication with authorities.
  • Educators must have an emergency contact information sheet for each child in their classroom.

Safe Access

All our facilities are locked. We keep to a minimum the number of families that have access to the code or biometric fingerprint system, which uses fingerprints to unlock the door. The biometric ID pad is not just a security measure; it also allows us to track a child’s attendance in the program. EEC requires us to keep records of the arrival and departure times of all children in our care. Each time the pad reads an associated person’s fingerprint, a child(ren) will be automatically logged into or out of First Circle’s attendance record.

Safe release

It is crucial that you make sure each child is picked up by an authorized person. All employees must know this policy thoroughly and follow it without exception [see DAILY PROGRAM MANAGEMENT for full policy].

illness and communicable conditions

Overview

Preventing the spread of communicable disease is a high priority. We follow all requirements and recommendations of the DPH and EEC.

As a childcare center, we must balance the health of the children and staff with sensitivity to the pressures of families’ work commitments. We try to be as flexible as possible within the EEC and DPH guidelines, but are conservative to protect the health of other children in our care.

We ask parents to use good judgment in deciding whether their child is well enough to attend school. We cannot provide care for a child with a diagnosed communicable disease, nor one who is not well enough to participate in a normal active school day. A child who is too sick to go outside or who cannot participate in the group’s activities is usually too sick to be with other children.

Symptoms

First Circle cannot accept a child who has exhibited symptoms of an infectious disease (flu, chicken pox, measles, mumps, hepatitis, conjunctivitis, infectious rash, strep infection) within the previous 24 hours. If a child develops or displays any of the symptoms below while at school, contact the parents and advise them they must come pick up their child. [see the Exclusions from Care chart hung in each classroom].

  • FEVER ABOVE 100.5o on the forehead (measured twice, 15 minutes apart)
  • diarrhea more than once in a short period of time (unless caused by antibiotics)
  • one bout of vomiting
  • pink or red eyes with yellow discharge from the eye or tearing
  • rash with a fever or behavior change
  • difficulty breathing
  • mouth sores, unless the child’s healthcare provider states that the child is non-infectious
  • signs of an ear infection (discomfort, pulling on ear), unless the child is fever-free and able to participate in school activities
  • blisters or rash consistent with chicken pox
  • head lice
  • any other symptom of communicable disease, especially if there is another confirmed case within First Circle

Mild illness

If a child is mildly ill, has no fever, seems unusually irritable, lethargic, or generally “not themselves,” but shows no other symptoms, consult with Admin. If you inform the parents, you must tell them your plans to accommodate the child’s needs. If they can participate in the daily program, including outside time, they may remain in school.

If the child’s condition worsens or symptoms of contagious illness appear [see Symptoms above], or if the child cannot be cared for by classroom staff, contact the parents to arrange pickup. A child who has been excluded from care may return after a) meeting the requirements below, or b) being evaluated by a healthcare provider and receiving written confirmation that they are not infectious and pose no serious health risk to themself or to other children. Nevertheless, First Circle has the right to make the final decision concerning the inclusion or exclusion of the child from attendance.

Parent pickup

If a child is sick, call the parents as soon as possible, following these guidelines:

  • If they don’t answer and you get voicemail, leave a message.
  • Tell the parent when they answer or when leaving a message that the child is okay, but not feeling well. List the ailment, tell them they need to be picked up as soon as possible, and that we’re doing everything to keep them comfortable.

Our policy is that parents must pick up their child as quickly as possible (within an hour), unless special circumstances apply (discuss with Admin). If you cannot reach a parent, contact an emergency contact(s) and ask them to pick up the child.

Once you have contacted a parent or their emergency contact:

  1. Let Admin know you have contacted parents to pick up the child.
  2. Make the child comfortable in a quiet area of the classroom or in the office to rest under the supervision of teacher(s) or Admin. Clean and disinfect any toys, blankets, or mats used by an ill child before use by other children.
  3. Complete a Sent Home Sick form and get an administrator’s signature. Ask the person who picks up to sign the Sent Home Sick form. During your conversation with the parent, update them on the child’s condition at pickup, remind them that to prevent the spread of infection, the child must remain out of school until they have been symptom-free for at least 24 hours without medication. Please refer to the Exclusions From Care chart for specifics.
  4. If a child exhibits a symptom listed above on a field trip, contact the parents and, depending on logistics, decide with them whether they should meet their child at First Circle after the bus returns, or drive to the field trip site to pick up their child. Either way, make the child comfortable and keep them apart from other children as much as possible.
  5. Any questions about or exceptions to First Circle policies can only be decided by Admin.

Sent home sick form

If a parent informs you that their child has contracted a communicable disease or serious illness, report it to Admin immediately. As required by the DPH, children with certain contagious, report-worthy diseases must stay home until all danger of contagion has passed.

For any communicable conditions, we will notify the staff in the classroom directly. We will also notify parents by email in the classroom where it occurs with information about the disease and symptoms to watch for. If a child needs to be excluded due to other non-typical communicable disease or for other health reasons, we will contact our Healthcare Consultant or the local Public Health Department, and you will be notified of any further instructions. The child may return to First Circle when approved by the health care provider or DPH.

Head lice

What are lice?

Head lice are a common condition among children, second only to the common cold. About 80 percent of schools across the country have at least 1 outbreak of head lice per year. Preschool and elementary school aged children are most affected, girls more frequently than boys.

Anyone can get head lice. Lice are not due to poor hygiene; in fact, lice prefer clean heads. Lice carry no diseases. However, getting rid of them requires the parent’s vigilance, using treatment with a lice-killing shampoo and manually removing all nits from the hair.

How are lice transmitted?

Lice crawl quickly but do not jump, hop, or fly. Lice pass from one child to another through head-to-head contact. Current research shows that 99% of cases are spread this way. At school, we work to limit head-to-head contact but can’t prevent every instance.

Lice can also spread by sharing of personal articles like hats, towels, brushes, helmets, hair ties, etc. Although First Circle has very few of these items, during a lice outbreak, articles such as dress-up hats should be removed from the classroom until the outbreak is over.

How lice are not transmitted:

Head lice and nits (eggs) are not viable once off the human scalp. As a result, the chances of transmission through clothing, hats, linens, stuffed animals, and sleeping bags is highly unlikely (the remaining 1% of cases). However, as a precautionary measure, during a lice outbreak at First Circle, classroom staff should remove and bag all stuffed animals, dress-up clothes, dolls, and pillows and expose them to high heat.

How do I identify lice?

Lice are small, wingless insects. Their color varies from whitish brown to reddish-brown. Typically, one only sees the nits (eggs) on the hair shaft, not the adults. Nits may be seen as specks glued to the hair shaft, ranging in color from yellow to gray. It’s difficult to see nits without magnification, but they are typically found within a half-inch of the scalp and near the nape of the neck or over the ears. Nits can be confused with dry skin: to tell if it is a nit, flick it or blow on it. If it moves off the hair shaft, it is not a nit.

If we are notified that a child at First Circle has contracted head lice, Administration will notify the classroom(s) and families in the classroom(s) involved via email and provide fact sheets and instructions on how to look for, treat, and remove lice. Once an outbreak occurs, it is common for the other children in the classroom to become infected.

To prevent spreading and re-occurrence, we need you to:

  • Follow the same instruction we have provided to families and examine the children in your classroom every few days looking for any additional cases.
  • Wear gloves and use craft sticks to separate the hair.

A child or staff member who has contracted lice may return after they have been determined to be nit-free. Daily checking of the child or staff member’s head should occur for 14 days after their return.

AIDS/HIV

First Circle follows the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s HIV Infection/ Aids Policy.

Epidemic illness

As mandated by the Board of Health, if an epidemic illness has been brought into the school and is spreading rapidly and uncontrollably, First Circle may be forced to close its doors to air out the school. In the event of illness believed to be part of an outbreak or disease cluster, First Circle will consult with the local Board of Health to receive further instructions.

We may need to close our program temporarily without notice in the event of an epidemic or pandemic health crisis. We would consult the local and state agencies responding to the emergency when making the decision.

Staff health

Bi-annual physical

We expect all employees to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health so they are able to perform their job responsibilities to the fullest and keep the children in their care healthy. As required by licensing, all employees are responsible for providing documentation of a physical exam every 2 years after the start of employment.

Illness

Please keep the director apprised of any changes to your health, including any communicable diseases, injuries, pregnancy, or illnesses. You will be allowed to work if it is medically safe for you to do so and poses no danger to you, your co-workers, or the children.

In keeping with our Health and Safety Policy, and to protect your health and that of your co-workers, staff who have experienced the following symptoms during the previous 24 hours must be excluded:

  • fever of 100.5° or over
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • pink or red eyes with discharge from the eye (conjunctivitis)
  • rash
  • any symptoms of communicable disease including flu, chicken pox, measles, mumps, hepatitis, conjunctivitis, infectious rash, scabies, strep infection, especially when there is another confirmed case within First Circle
  • head lice (must be nit-free)

Our policy is to make reasonable accommodations for staff that are occasionally ill. Staff members who are chronically ill should re-evaluate their suitability for working in a field where dependability is crucial. (see Job Performance, Attendance/Absences).

All staff must report accidents and injuries at once, no matter how minor, and complete an Incident Form within 48 hours.

 

Bloodborne Pathogens

Childcare providers can be exposed to bloodborne pathogens when diapering, toileting, feeding, or cleaning up the vomit of children in their care; breaking up fights between children; or if bitten by a child. It’s important that educators become familiar with bloodborne pathogens (diseases transmitted through exposure to infected blood/body fluids that contain infected blood) and how to protect themselves from becoming infected.

To contract a bloodborne disease, blood (or blood-containing body fluids) from an infected person must be introduced directly into your bloodstream through a needle stick, a cut, an opening in your skin, or through mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth. To protect yourself from bloodborne illnesses, follow these simple steps:

  • Assume everyone, including the children in your care, is infected (practice universal precaution).
  • Always wear disposable gloves when coming in contact with blood or other body fluids.
  • Remove immediately any garment contaminated by blood and bag up (in diaper bag) for return to family.
  • Always wash your hands before putting on and after removing gloves. If you believe you have been exposed to a bloodborne pathogen, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water; report the incident to the appropriate personnel and/or agency and proceed immediately to your physician or nearest emergency room.

allergies

Allergies list

Each classroom has an allergy list that includes all the children in the school with a known allergy or cultural dietary preferences. This list should be posted for easy access in a manner that protects privacy.

Prevention

We take allergies very seriously and collaborate with parents to respond to their child’s needs in the safest and most consistent way possible.

  • First Circle is a nut-free and latex-free (gloves and band-aids) school.
  • In the case of severe food allergies, we will eliminate serving that food in a classroom.
  • In the case of a known allergy to a chemical or other material, we post this information and eliminate exposure in the classroom environment, if possible.
  • All educators are trained annually to handle allergic reaction emergencies.

Management

Allergy action plan

If a child has a known or suspected allergy, you’ll receive a Special Care Plan and Allergy Action Plan. The Allergy Action Plan details the specific allergy, preventative measures to be taken, symptoms of the allergy and expected treatment, and exact details of any medication to be given.

Treatment

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can occur quickly (as fast as a couple of minutes) and may be life threatening. Time is of the essence with an allergic reaction. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of an allergic reaction, which can include:

  • MOUTH: Itching, tingling, or swelling of lips, tongue, mouth
  • SKIN: Hives, itchy rash, swelling of the face or extremities
  • GUT: Nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
  • THROAT: Tightening of throat, hoarseness, hacking cough
  • LUNG: Shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, wheezing
  • HEART: Irregular pulse, fainting, pallor, blueness
  • NEURO: Disorientation, dizziness, loss of consciousness

For a child with a known or suspected allergy, notice any symptoms and determine the course of action based on the child’s Special Care Plan:

Antihistamine

If the child’s Special Care Plan indicates antihistamine for symptoms presenting:

  • One staff member must stay with the child at all times.
  • Give the medication listed on the form.
  • Contact parent/guardian.
  • Notify Administration.
  • Closely monitor for improvement or worsening of symptoms.
Epinephrine

If the child’s Special Care Plan indicates an EpiPen for an allergic reaction,  refer to the Plan and determine whether the presenting symptoms call for use of the EpiPen:

  • One staff member must stay with the child at all times.
  • Call for help from the office.
  • Inject EpiPen [see below]. Note time of injection for EMTs.
  • Have another teacher or Admin call 911.
  • Contact parent or emergency contact.
  • Take used EpiPen unit and child’s file in the ambulance to the hospital.

Directions for using epipen or Jr.

Prepare the EpiPen or EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector For Injection
  • Remove the auto-injector from the clear carrier tube.
  • Flip open the yellow cap of the EpiPen or the green cap of the EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector carrier tube.
  • Tip and slide the auto-injector out of the carrier tube.
  • Grasp the auto-injector in your fist with the orange tip pointing downward. With your other hand, remove the blue safety release by pulling straight up without bending or twisting it.

Note: The needle comes out of the orange tip. Never put your thumb, fingers, or hand over the orange tip.

Administer the EpiPen or EpiPen Jr Auto-Injector
  • Hold the auto-injector with orange tip near the outer thigh. Swing and firmly push the orange tip against the outer thigh until it ‘clicks.’
  • Keep the auto-injector firmly pushed against the thigh at a 90° angle (perpendicular) to the thigh. Hold firmly against the thigh for around 10 seconds to deliver the drug. The injection is now complete.
  • Remove the auto-injector from the thigh. The orange tip will extend to cover the needle.
  • Massage the injection area for 10 seconds.

asthma

Asthma action plan

For any child with a history of asthma, we require an Asthma Action Plan on file and a Special Care Plan. The plan specifies any known or suspected asthma triggers, any environmental control measures, pre-medications, and/or dietary restrictions that the child needs to prevent triggering an asthma episode, symptom management, and any medication that may be needed. All educators in a classroom with a child with asthma will receive appropriate training to handle emergency asthma episodes.

Treatment

To effectively manage a child’s asthma at First Circle, follow these guidelines, below.

medication

Trained First Circle staff can administer prescription and non-prescription medication with written approval from both the child’s healthcare provider and parent. An Authorization for Medication form signed by the parent and an authorization from the child’s healthcare provider must accompany any medication to be administered to a child during the school day. A prescription label is considered written authorization by the healthcare provider. These consents are valid for one year.

Prescription medication must be in the original container with the original prescription label attached and legible.

For a chronic medical condition, the educator must successfully complete training given by the child’s health care practitioner or, with their written consent, given by the child’s parent or First Circle’s health care consultant. The training must specifically address the child’s medical condition, medication, and other treatment needs.

For non-prescription medications, the child’s healthcare provider must provide written and signed instructions including:

  • type of medication
  • route of administration
  • child’s previous experience with the medication
  • reason(s) for the medication
  • dosing instructions
  • indications for when the medication is to be given if prescribed “as needed”
  • possible side effects to watch for
  • storage instructions

PRESCRIPTION + NON-PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS

All teachers at First Circle receive training to recognize common side effects and adverse reactions of various medications. We are strictly regulated by both the DPH and EEC regarding medication. There are absolutely no exceptions to these policies:

Parents must provide all medication
Form

An Authorization for Medication form must be filled out each time a child needs a new medication. It must be dated and clearly indicate the kind of medication, dosage, and if non-prescription, criteria for administration if specified “as needed.”

Container

All prescription medication must be in the original pharmacy container and include the child’s name, the name of the medication, the dosage, the number of times per day, and the number of days the medication is to be administered.

Labeling

Non-prescription medication must be labeled with the child’s full name, the date that medication was authorized by the child’s healthcare provider, the provider’s name, expiration date, period of use, and instructions on how to administer and store it. Use a plastic bag if necessary to fit all the information.

Storage

Parents must hand all medications directly to the teacher. You must store medications in a locked container or cabinet in the classroom or under locked refrigeration storage (if required), located in the staff room or kitchen.

Directions

Medications must be dispensed following the directions on the original container, unless authorized in writing by the child’s licensed health care practitioner. Medications without clear directions on the container must be administered in accordance with a written physician’s order.

First dose

We cannot administer the first dose of any medication to a child, except under extraordinary circumstances and with parental consent. New medication must be administered at home at least one hour prior to bringing the child to First Circle.

Training

For children with Special Care plans, parents with written permission from their child’s health care provider may train teachers to implement their child’s plan.

Physicians

As specified by the State of Massachusetts, healthcare providers cannot prescribe medication for their own children.

Return

Return any unused, discontinued, or outdated medications to the parents for disposal.

Logs

First Circle maintains logs of the administration of any medication (excluding topical ointments and sprays applied to normal skin), as part of the child’s file.

Recording

Each time a medication is administered, you must document in the child’s record the name, dosage, time, and method of administration, and who administered the medication.

Unanticipated

Any unanticipated administration of medication or treatment for a non-life-threatening condition requires that the teacher must make a reasonable attempt to contact the parent(s) prior to administering the medication or beginning treatment. If the parent(s) cannot be reached in advance, they must be contacted as soon as possible after such medication or treatment is given.

As-needed medications

When a child has a chronic condition requiring routine medication administration or conditions requiring EpiPens, the classroom will receive a Special Care Plan as well as an Authorization for Medication for that child.

Nebulizer policy

For children with respiratory conditions that require a nebulizer, we can administer the nebulizer treatments with the following stipulations:

  • Parents must complete an Authorization for Medication form stating the dose and times of treatment each day.
  • A child requiring multiple nebulizer treatments a day must receive the first treatment prior to arrival at First Circle.
  • The nebulizer medication must be in the original prescription box with dosage clearly stated. The doses must be pre-measured and individually wrapped.
  • We cannot make the decision about giving children a nebulizer treatment on an “as needed” basis. If we think a child’s breathing needs to be assessed during the day, and the nebulizer has already been administered as indicated on the medication form, you must call the parents and ask them to come in to decide about administering medication an additional time.
  • For a child who is wheezing or coughing and has an Asthma Action Plan on file, you must call the parent to verbally authorize additional administration of the nebulizer.

Topical medication

Administration of non-prescription topical ointments and sprays such as diaper creams, petroleum jelly, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc., require a signed Topical Medication Authorization form. The signed form is valid for one year and includes a list of topical non-prescription medications.

To apply topical ointments to wounds, rashes (except diaper rash), or broken skin, you must have an Authorization for Medication form signed by the child’s healthcare provider [see DAILY ROUTINES: Playground, Sunscreen and Insect Repellents]

ASTHMA ACTION PLAN

GREEN ZONE – NO SYMPTOMS

SYMPTOMS

  • No coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or difficulty breathing
  • Can work, play, exercise, perform daily activities without symptoms
TEACHER ACTION
  • Monitor for symptoms

YELLOW ZONE – CAUTION, HAVING SYMPTOMS

SYMPTOMS

  • coughing or wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
  • difficulty breathing
  • other: refer to Asthma Action Plan
TEACHER ACTION
  • Stay with child. Speak softly and stay calm.
  • Keep child sitting upright and encourage slow deep breathing.
  • Give medication indicated.
  • Have another teacher or Admin contact parent or emergency contact.
  • If medication doesn’t take effect, proceed to Red Zone below.

RED ZONE – Alert! Be prepared for emergency action!

SYMPTOMS

  • Breathing difficulty remains or worsens
  • Continuous spasmodic coughing
  • Increasing anxiety or confusion
  • Struggling or gasping for breath
  • Skin pulling in around collarbone and ribs with breathing
  • Child stopping play and not able to start activity again due to breathing problems
  • Lips or fingernails darkening

TEACHER ACTION

  • Stay with child. Speak softly and stay calm.
  • Have teacher or Admin contact parent or emergency contact.
  • Keep child sitting upright and encourage slow deep breathing.
  • Give medication indicated.
  • Have teacher or Admin call 911.
  • Administer CPR if breathing stops and continue until paramedics arrive.

emergencies

Children have unique needs and vulnerabilities based on their dependence on adults, their limited mobility, and their developing communication skills. They need our protection and comfort.

Emergencies occur suddenly and can be overwhelming, but being prepared ensures that we’re ready to make decisions and take appropriate actions before, during, and after the emergency.

definition of an emergency

The terms “emergency” and “disaster” mean any event or situation that could pose a threat to the health or safety of children in our care. Emergencies include acts of nature such as a tornado, flood, or blizzard; accidents such as a severely injured child or hazardous material leak; public health events such as a pandemic; or manmade events such as an act or threat of violence. Disasters can strike anywhere at any time. In addition to natural disasters, the United States is also uniquely at high risk for shooter violence and manmade threats.

emergency plan

All staff members are trained in emergency preparedness and management annually. The safety and well-being of the children in our care and our staff always take priority over all other considerations. EEC requires us to have a written Emergency Management Plan with procedures for addressing potential emergencies. We keep the plan current. It meets the needs of all children in our care, including children who may need additional assistance during an evacuation (those with disabilities and others). The plan includes procedures for:

  • evacuation, relocation, shelter-in-place, and lockdown
  • communication and reunification with families
  • continuity of operations
  • accommodation of infants and toddlers, children with disabilities, and children with chronic medical conditions
  • staff emergency preparedness training and practice drills

three phases

Effective crisis and security plans help us effectively manage the operation of First Circle during a crisis incident or medical emergency. Emergency preparedness is the ability to react appropriately by knowing what measures should be taken during the THREE PHASES of an emergency (before, during, after). The more prepared we are, the shorter the response and recovery time for any emergency.

1. Preparedness

The preparedness phase takes place BEFORE an emergency or disaster. It includes being informed, making plans, building emergency/disaster supplies kits, and training staff on emergency plans. Practicing scenarios and drills are a critical part of being prepared.

2. Response

The response phase begins DURING the moments you are alerted to an impending emergency and when the emergency occurs. During this phase, we implement the plans that have been created for the preparedness phase.

3. Recovery

The recovery phase occurs AFTER an emergency. It includes determining long-term plans for the center to return to regular operations. This is primarily the administration’s responsibility, but will require staff support.

A critical element to all three phases: COMMUNICATION

  • Emergency phone numbers are posted by every phone.
  • All schools use Procare Engage to notify families of an emergency.
  • In the event of a school evacuation, Admin brings cell phones for necessary communications with the fire department or other appropriate authorities.
  • To effectively communicate with families, educators must have an emergency contact information sheet for each child enrolled in their classroom.

preparedness

Methods

[see HEALTH & SAFETY section above]

  • Maintaining accurate head counts
  • Keeping children safe in the classroom and on the playground
  • Preventing injury
  • Conducting emergency evacuation drills
  • Maintaining and accessing parent emergency contact information

Emergency evacuation drills

EEC requires us to conduct evacuation drills every month in accordance with local fire department guidance, which is identified on posted evacuation plans in each classroom.

response

Each hazard has its own protocol, so it’s important to be familiar with the specific procedure for each one. Staff must refer to the What to do in Case of Emergency Posting in the classroom and the specific responsibilities in the Appendix.

Response may include some or all the following:

  • Identifying that a crisis is occurring and the appropriate response
  • Activating the Emergency Management Plan
  • Closing the building or canceling the program
  • Determining if evacuation, shelter-in-place, lockdown, or other procedures need to be implemented
  • Establishing what information needs to be communicated to staff, families, and the community
  • Maintaining appropriate communication with all involved

Identification

  • Emergencies can be identified by anyone. If you see, smell, or hear something that seems like it might present a danger to people or property, let an administrator know.
  • Admin will work with local authorities to identify whether it is an emergency and remedy the problem.

Closing the program

Most of our families need care to work at their jobs, so we remain open as much as possible. For safety reasons, extreme weather or a loss of utilities can prompt us to close the program. Site administration and executive administration collaborate on the decision to close a program.

EVACUATION ON SITE

We evacuate on site for situations such as fire, local hazmat situation, carbon monoxide etc.

EVACUATION OFF-SITE

In extreme circumstances (i.e.: chemical spill that cannot be contained, widespread fire, etc.) and in consultation with emergency personnel, we will evacuate to the school’s designated off-site location. This decision will be made based on the projected duration of the evacuation, and conditions at both locations at the time.

EVACUATION CHECKLIST

When we must evacuate the center, classroom teachers are responsible for:

  • Daily attendance
  • Emergency Information Sheets for each child
  • Medications and supplies that will be vital for care for the next 1-2 hours (including all emergency medications, like EpiPens)
  • Blankets in cold weather
  • One diaper per child who needs one and a box of wipes.
REVERSE EVACUATION

Movement of children and staff back into the center due to a danger/emergency outside. An example of this is a suspicious or criminal act occurring nearby or a wild animal.

SHELTER IN PLACE

When a threat creates hazardous conditions outside the center, children and staff may need to shelter in place. This may also need to occur if it is not safe or there is insufficient time to move to a designated assembly area or relocation site. Sheltering in place involves keeping children and staff inside the building and securing the center for the immediate emergency. Examples of shelter-in-place situations include tornadoes, community violence, or a hazardous material spill.

LOCKDOWN

The purpose of a lockdown is to keep children and staff inside the building by securing them in a classroom or other safe area due to an immediate threat inside the center. Lockdown procedures will be used in situations that may harm people inside the center, such as a shooting, hostage incident, intruder, trespassing, disturbance, or at the discretion of the director, designee or public safety personnel.

types of hazards

Being aware of hazards helps us prioritize them and prevent them or limit their effects. Several hazards could impact our program, ranging in risk from possible to extremely unlikely.

natural
  • severe weather (snow, lightning)
  • flood
  • hurricane/tornado
facility
  • utility disruption (heat, water, power)
  • fire
  • hazardous materials
safety
  • accident/injury
  • missing child
  • epidemic illness
violence
  • physical/verbal threat
  • intruder
  • active shooter

Natural hazards

Severe weather may be predicted several days in advance in the case of hurricanes and winter storms, or within a few hours or less for tornadoes and other wind, rain, or ice storms. First Circle Administration will monitor the National Weather Service through multiple sources and keep you posted on all severe weather watches, warnings, and travel advisories

watch
  • A watch designation is used when the risk of a hazardous weather event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time for people to act.
warning
  • A warning is issued when a hazardous weather event is occurring, is imminent, or has a high probability of occurring. It is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property.
advisory
  • An advisory highlights special weather conditions that are less serious than a warning. It is for events that may cause significant inconvenience and require caution to avoid situations that may threaten life and/or property.
Snow and ice storms

Our primary consideration when deciding whether to open is the safety of the children and our staff. We actively monitor weather to make the best decisions, and try to give families and staff advance warning, even if we sometimes need to change that decision at daybreak.

If we decide to close early, open late, or close for the entire day, we’ll update our Facebook page with the information, and notify you via Procare Engage.

  • If the course and impact of the storm are in question the evening before, we’ll delay our final decision about opening to the morning. If we change our opening hours, we’ll notify you by 6:00 a.m. [Consult the Benefits Handbook for Snow Tier instructions]
  • For an overnight storm, we may delay opening the next morning, or open for a half-day.
  • If driving conditions are predicted to be dangerous the entire day, we will close for the day.

If the timing of a storm is later in the day, we open on time and may close early if conditions will be dangerous.

Thunderstorms

Every thunderstorm produces lightning.  On average, lightning kills 300 people and injures 80 people each year in the United States. Lightning is unpredictable; it can strike as far as 10 miles from any rainfall. Other thunderstorm-related dangers are tornadoes, strong winds, hail, wildfire, and flash flooding. If thunderstorms are forecasted, we will limit or cancel outdoor activities.

  • If you hear thunder while on the playground, immediately take everyone indoors and shelter in place.
  • If indoors during a thunderstorm, secure outside doors.
  • Do not use electrical appliances.
Flooding

Heavy precipitation can cause floods. Floods can build over several days or occur rapidly as flash floods. First Circle schools are not located in a flood zone. Should a flood warning be in effect in the area, we will heed evacuation orders from public safety officials.

Tornado

Tornadoes are occurring more frequently in Massachusetts. Weather fronts that can produce tornadoes may also generate severe rain, wind, and hail that can cause serious damage.

  • Tornado watch means that a tornado is likely over a large area. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or is indicated on weather radar in a specific area.
  • When conditions outdoors pose an immediate and severe threat to the safety of staff and children, and town emergency personnel notify us to remain in the building, the administrator in charge will order a SHELTER IN PLACE [see Shelter in Place procedures].
Hurricanes

Hurricane season lasts from June through November

  • Hurricanes generate winds from 74 to 160 miles per hour, bring heavy rainfall, and sometimes floods.
  • Hurricanes typically arrive with plenty of warning, so if danger is anticipated, First Circle would be closed.

Facility hazards

These events come with little to no warning and can include things like fire, gas leaks, utility disruption, or other environmental threats. Administration will assess each situation as it arises. We will make every effort to keep the center open, while ensuring compliance with regulations. If the event requires that we close, First Circle will reopen as soon as the situation is resolved.

Utility disruption

Utilities may be disrupted during a storm or a more localized incident. We must be able to meet regulations and requirements for water use, heat, and power to remain open in such circumstances.

  • We are usually prepared to operate without utilities for 2-5 hours. For instance, emergency lighting is inspected several times a year, and we keep extra water on hand for drinking and flushing toilets during an emergency. Our Framingham (FRA) location also has an emergency generator.
  • Emergency supplies are in Janice’s office (FRA) or on the top shelf in the snack area (Lexington) or the classroom (Stoughton) as well as the office.

Fire

Fire is the most common of all business disasters. More than 4,000 Americans die and more than 20,000 are injured by fire each year.

  • Fires can spread quickly and are dangerous not only because of the flames but also the heat, smoke, and poisonous gases emitted. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire-related deaths.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of fires in childcare centers, but fire can occur for many reasons, including damage from an earthquake, wind, or water to electrical equipment, etc.
  • In the event of a fire, follow the evacuation plan posted in each classroom, and evacuate the children to their designated spot as practiced in monthly drills.
  • If the fire is small and the building has been evacuated, administrators with proper training may use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire. At no time should staff attempt to fight the fire if there is an imminent threat to their safety.

Hazardous materials

A hazardous materials accident could occur in the form of a natural gas leak, spilling of a solvent, or on a roadway or factory or processor in the immediate area. In these cases, follow these procedures:

  • Notify Admin immediately of any suspected gas leaks or suspicious smells.
  • The administrator will notify the gas company and fire department and follow their safety directions.
  • Be prepared to isolate the immediate area, evacuate, or take other precautions like sealing windows, doorways, shutting off air intake systems to provide protection from airborne hazardous materials.
  • If there is a temporary threat specific only to the premises, we will follow evacuation procedures, then follow the off-site evacuation procedures.
  • In the event of a major environmental hazard that necessitates a large evacuation – such as several neighborhoods – the local government agency will determine the mass shelter location. All educators must accompany their assigned children to the shelter and remain with them while the family/guardian/emergency contacts are notified, and arrangements are made for pickup.

safety hazards

For treatment of minor injuries, see HEALTH & SAFETY above. There are some safety hazards we can prevent, and others we can only prepare for.

Serious injury

In the event of a serious injury (such as a seizure, a serious cut, or a possible broken bone), strictly follow the procedures outlined.

Missing, lost, or abducted child

Most abducted children are taken by someone they know. It is essential that educators release children only to designated individuals and account for children at all times.

Epidemic illness

As mandated by the Board of Health, if an epidemic illness has been brought into the school and is spreading rapidly and uncontrollably, First Circle may be forced to close to air out the school or close classrooms to contain the spread of the disease. If the illness is believed to be part of an outbreak or disease cluster, First Circle will consult with the local Board of Health to receive further instructions. We may need to close our program temporarily without notice in the event of an epidemic or pandemic health crisis. We would consult with the local and state agencies responding to the emergency to make the decision. During an outbreak of infectious disease, follow these procedures:

  • Reinforce habits that protect children from disease by limiting the spread of infection (good handwashing; covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing; cleaning toys frequently).
  • Keep a good supply of things you will need to help control the spread of infection. (For example, plenty of soap, paper towels, and tissues.) Store the supplies in easy-to-find places.
  • Keep accurate records of when children are absent, including a record of the illness that caused the absence (e.g., diarrhea/vomiting, coughing/breathing problems, rash, or other). We need this information to report an outbreak of illness to the Board of Health.
  • Check children each day as they arrive to see if they are sick. Do not allow sick children to remain at the program.
  • Stay home if you are sick. If you become sick while at work, go home and stay home.

violence hazards

Statistically, violent crimes are extremely unlikely to happen within First Circle. It is still important for us to be prepared for the improbable.

The following information is a general response to physical threats that may present at First Circle. This includes threats from outside the center, such as community violence, and inside the center, like an intruder. In every situation, Admin and staff members will evaluate the situation, and only address the threat when their safety is not compromised. If any person in the center does not feel safe in the situation, local emergency services (911) will be contacted, provided it can be done in a safe manner.

Verbal and physical threats

Intruder

Every staff member is responsible for ensuring that all persons on the premises are authorized to be there. If you notice an unfamiliar unaccompanied person, ask that person how they can be helped. Should someone exhibit strange or aggressive behavior, report this to an administrator immediately. Each situation is different, and we will all do our best. There is no way to plan for every possibility, or how each of us will react.

Active shooter

While no one wants to think about the possibility of an active shooter in their school, it’s good practice to prepare for active shooter events.

Staff must be aware of their surroundings and be prepared to respond if they ever find themselves in such a situation to protect the children in the center and themselves. Active shooter situations are unpredictable, and the event often evolves quickly. Consult the What to do in an Emergency poster in the classroom.

Abuse + neglect policy

By law, every childcare staff member is a mandated reporter, and must file a report when they believe a child is being abused or neglected.

Massachusetts law requires mandated reporters to immediately make an oral or written report to DCF when, in their professional capacity, they have reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 years is suffering from abuse or neglect. A mandated reporter may also notify local law enforcement or the Office of the Child Advocate of any suspected abuse and/or neglect.

Each staff member is responsible for reporting any suspected abuse or neglect, including abuse by another staff member. You should report any physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse; any indication of neglect, including malnutrition; any instance in which a child is determined to be physically dependent upon an addictive drug at birth; or death as a result of abuse and/or neglect. Any mandated reporter who fails to make required oral and written reports can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000.

First Circle’s complete Abuse and Neglect Policy is detailed in the Appendix. Under the law, mandated reporters are protected from liability in any civil or criminal action and from any discriminatory or retaliatory actions by an employer.

If a staff member has a concern about a child or fellow educator, the first step is to report the concerns immediately to the director or, in their absence, any First Circle administrator, with as much detail as possible. Staff must follow the requirements and process outlined in this policy with no exception. We provide regular training to all staff on recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect. For new staff, this is covered in the orientation.