12 Mar Tiny Trees Closures Week of March 16 in Response to COVID-19
Dear staff, families, and friends,
We are thinking of you and our entire community during this global health crisis. As you may know, this afternoon, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced that all K-12 schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties will close by Tuesday, March 17th, through Friday, April 24th. Seattle Parks and Recreation has also closed all of their recreation facilities until April 13th.
These developments in King County and the rest of the world are scary, challenging, and stressful. This is no less true at Tiny Trees, as we continue to care for our community. We are acutely aware of the many ways this impacts our families and staff, and we will be in touch soon with more resources for community care. We also know that this outbreak is deeply affecting the most vulnerable people in our community, and we have a responsibility to care for ourselves and each other as best as we can. And today, that looks different than it used to.
We know that Public Health is closely watching the outbreak and may determine that childcare and preschool closures are necessary. We are preparing now for the possibility of prolonged mandatory closures. Until now, our goal has been to remain open as long as possible, following local public health officials’ guidance, taking advantage of our small classroom sizes and the ability to educate outdoors in the fresh air.
We are a small but mighty organization, and it’s taken everything we’ve got to stay open, and it’s no longer the best course of action. While we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our sites, over 25% of our staff are unable to work in classrooms for various reasons including mild symptoms keeping them home as a precaution. The administrative staff has been in classrooms every day, and that’s still not quite enough staff to support all of our classrooms. We have also seen a reduction in student attendance, with many students also out with mild symptoms, or staying home with parents.
At this time we have reached a point where we feel the most responsive and responsible thing to do is to close Tiny Trees voluntarily to reduce the spread of illness and allow staff an opportunity to recover and plan for our community. To this end, all Tiny Trees classrooms will be closed March 16 through March 20, until further notice.
During this time, our staff and Board of Directors will be carefully mapping out a path for our teachers and staff to continue to serve our families that will reduce transmission, protect vulnerable populations and prioritize ongoing service to children and families.
- In the event of any classroom closures beyond next week at Tiny Trees, our staff will lean on technology to provide families and children with at-home activities and community connections for families to continue to work toward their goals and benefit from Tiny Trees’ best practices in early learning.
- We are considering all options including virtual classes, combining classrooms or offering alternative outdoor activities.
- We will be reaching out to partners and families to better understand community needs, and to mobilize mutual aid efforts for families.
- We are seeing a local shortage of supplies that we need to keep our programs open and safe for everyone. In the coming days, we will be asking for your support in securing classroom supplies and reaching out to see how you would like to engage with your classroom and/or Tiny Trees community.
- We will be in touch with families via email and/or Remind and calls.
We will stay present, and we hope you will too. Thank you for your continued commitment to our Tiny Trees community.
Kellie Morrill, Executive Director