Ellensburg daycares power through the pandemic

Tony Smith, Staff Reporter

Throughout the past year, Michelle Hill, director of Early Childhood Learning Center on Brook Lane and Brittany Tyler, assistant director of Early Childhood Learning Rainbow Center in Michaelson Hall, have been able to develop and implement changes to keep the facilities running throughout the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, parents were welcome in the building for events, such as family meals according to Hill. 

Kassidy Malcolm

“Family meals are something that we had to put aside with social distancing, so we did away with family style meals, and we are looking forward to bringing families back in the building,” Hill said.

 At the start of the pandemic, it was unclear what the ECLC was going to have to do to keep going. Tyler said with time and a lot of planning, they were able to create a strong reopening plan.

According to Tyler, having families being involved in children learning is a big goal at the ECLC.

“The families being a part of the center and [being] able to see what their children are doing on a daily basis is a really crucial part of the learning experience when they are with us, and it really helps to build the relationships between the staff and parents,” Tyler said. “Currently we have just been having to give them pictures or videos through the application that we are [utilizing] in order to support that. Right now, if you have any symptoms, we ask that you be out for 48 hours.”

Hill said students used to be able to see teachers smile and express emotions, and parent-teacher conferences were in person. She said she is looking forward to these aspects to return to normal as progress is made toward the state opening back up.

Kassidy Malcolm

There were events every quarter pre-pandemic, according to Hill, but that was something that had to be cancelled due to restrictions. 

“We have an event every quarter, for fall we have a harvest fest, and we invite families to come in and have a thanksgiving meal before the break … We didn’t have our spring fling, which is the end of the year [for the]kindergarten graduation ceremony. We didn’t have our winter fest, we have that in December.”

Moving forward they are still taking precautions and following CDC guidelines to keep the children and families safe according to Hill.

“We supported hybrid learning and virtual learning, we have been full days because public school is full,” Hill said.

Workers at the centers have adapted to assist with both online and in-person activities.

“We are masters with Zoom, getting the children logged in all their own Chromebook and headphones, helping with their schoolwork and just supporting and assisting with the online and hybrid learning.”