The Fort Hood Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation’s Child and Youth Services began a phased approach to re-opening additional child development centers and school age care facilities on the installation, accepting children, May 18, as part of the initial phase approach.
“They’re really happy to be back,” Letitia Lesene, facilities director for Muskogee SAC, said about the staff. “They really missed the kids.”
Before entering the facility, children are now required to partake in an on-site temperature reading. Lesene said she knows with extreme summer temperatures outside, children could register hotter than normal.
“With the heat here in Texas, their body temperature will go up,” she said. “If they come in and it’s reading in the high 90s, then we give them a minute to cool down and take it again.”
Once inside the facility, Lesene said the youth are split into groups of nine, with the student-teacher ratio at 9-1. Instead of allowing students to “free-flow” throughout the facility like normal, they are now sent to a specific room and rotate rooms every 20 minutes, so they don’t find themselves bored.
“We clean and sanitize with each transition. When they go from a room, that room is completely wiped down before the next kids go in,” she explained. “Then the kids wash their hands before entering the next room.”
Rotations include playtime outside, which she said allows children to play together, without touching. No contact sports, such as basketball and volleyball, are allowed at the moment. Just like inside the rooms, she said the playground equipment is cleaned after each rotation.
Lesene said kids naturally want to play with each other and sit by their friends, so they removed any extra chairs in the rooms, to allow for social distancing.
Even still, she said they have to talk to the children about the need for spacing and consistently remind them throughout the day.
“They get it … mostly,” she said. “Like anything with children, you have to repeat – it has to be told over and over, until they get used to it.”
During breakfast, lunch and snacks, the youth have assigned seating, which prevents them from sitting too close to others.
Since water fountains are off-limits at the moment, Lesene said they have staff who bring water to the children throughout the day.
Ashley Hill, administrator for youth and school age care with the Fort Hood DFMWR, said the child development centers on post are following the same rules, with mandatory temperature readings upon entering the building and regularly sanitizing rooms.
Childcare is available to previously approved mission essential employees in support of Fort Hood, active duty combat-related Wounded Warriors, single Soldiers, dual-military and employees of Child and Youth Services who are single or have a working spouse. Hill said as services expand, registered patrons will be contacted.
“If they are new to CYS, the process has not changed,” she said. “They will still request care through MilitaryChildCare.com and initiate CYS registration via Fort Hood CYS Webtrac, https://go.usa.gov/xn4rd, or by calling Parent Central Services at 254-287-8029.”