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Guidance issued for reopening Wright-Patt childcare facilities

Child places blue pinwheel in ground.

Charlie Turner who attends the school age program at the Prairies Youth Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, places a blue pinwheel into the ground at the center in recognition of the Child Abuse Prevention initiative, April 26, 2018. The federal government has designated April as the National Child Abuse Prevention month and the blue pinwheel is its recognizable national symbol. (U.S. Air Force photo by Al Bright)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --

The 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has announced Phase II of reopening eligibility, guidelines and best practices for base child development centers during COVID-19, effective June 8.

“We have been working very closely with all of our community partners as we increase our capacity,” said Col. Paul Burger, 88th Mission Support Group commander. “All of our decisions are informed by our Public Health Team and mirror the Ohio state rules.”

Currently, the CDCs will be able to handle about half of their pre-COVID-19 capacity based on state and public health guidelines of 135 square feet of space per child.

Due to the guidelines and best practices, the 88th Force Support Squadron can support 312 child development center children and 117 youth program (Prairies School-Age Program, Prairies Youth Center) children.

“I want to stress this current situation is not permanent,” Burger added. “We are continuously monitoring the situation and will add more slots when it is safe for us to do so.”

The CDC slots are being offered to parents based on the tiered prioritization categories already in use for all facilities within the Department of Defense:

  • 1A: Combat-related wounded warriors
  • 1B: CDC and Youth Center employees with working spouse or spouse seeking employment
  • 1C: Single active-duty, dual active-duty, single Guard/Reserve on orders, dual Guard/Reserves on orders

“Most parents have already been contacted. Based on our current limitations, we cannot serve all of our population,” said Kristine Freels, 88th Force Support Squadron director. “Due to space limitations, the 1D priority (one military spouse and one working civilian spouse) will not be offered care at this time.”

There will be a limited number of spaces available for exceptions to the policy, according to Freels.

To ensure adequate social distancing within classrooms, all four CDCs (New Horizons, Wright Care, Wright Field North, Wright Field South) will reopen with most children and staff returning to their originally assigned building.

CDC staff members have been recalled and reported to their facilities to clean and prepare classrooms for the arrival of children.

The Phase II reopening will be effective June 8. All four CDC programs, Summer Camp and Open Recreation programs will open then. Specialty camps will begin June 15.

Based on recommendations from the 88th Medical Group and in coordination with public health recommendations, the CDC and Youth Programs ratios will be:

  • Infant: 1 to 6 (1 teacher to every 4 infants with no more than 6 in a room)
  • Pre-toddler: 1 to 6 (1 teacher to every 5 pre-toddlers with no more than 6 in a room)
  • Toddler: 1 to 6 (1 teacher to every 6 toddlers with no more than 6 in a room)
  • Preschool: 1 to 9 (1 teacher to every 9 preschoolers with no more than 9 in a room)
  • School-age: 1 to 9 (1 teacher to every 9 SAC with no more than 9 in a room)
  • Open Recreation/Specialty Camp: 1 to 9 (1 teacher to every 9 youth with no more than 9 in a room)

The Open Recreation Program hours of operation will be noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 8 p.m. on Friday. Open Recreation will be held in Bldg. 6933, Area B, due to the renovation project happening in Bldg. 234, Area B. Vacant slots will be offered for membership purchasing.

Specialty Camps slots will follow the same enrollment procedures as previous years. Enrollment will open on June 8, is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis and is for the weeks that families select care. Registration will be held in the Bldg. 6933 entryway.

Field trips have been suspended per higher headquarters guidance until June 30.

“At this time the CDCs are not accepting any new enrollments so care offered is focused on the current enrolled need within the highest priority category,” explained Freels.

In all programs, staff are required to conduct daily health checks, escort children to and from the classroom and sanitize/disinfect the program throughout the day. They must stay home if symptomatic.

Best practices to meet the requirements can be found here:

https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Sector-fact-sheet-8-Child-Care.pdf.