As your childcare center or daycare prepares to reopen, your families will naturally be curious about your new policies—and what you’re doing to keep their children safe. It’s important to communicate proactively to make families feel prepared, comfortable, and excited about sending their children back to your center. Families will appreciate frequent updates as more information becomes available, even if you’re still a few weeks or months away from reopening.
Here are the most important pieces of information to communicate with families in order to have a smooth and successful reopening.
1. When you’ll reopen and which students are eligible to return
What day do you expect to welcome families back into your center? Are you reopening at normal capacity, or will you be starting with a small group of children and expanding over time? Send your families a clear timeline of when you plan to reopen, including as many details as you have. If you know you will be starting with reduced capacity, explain to families how children will be selected to return.
Even if your answer is “We’re still waiting to decide,” families will value your transparency. Communicate early and often so your families will understand what to expect.
2. Any changes you’ve made to tuition
If your center has modified your tuition policy, families will want to know how much they will be charged, when payments are due, and what options are available to them. Many centers are making one or more of these tuition changes:
- Resuming tuition payments that were previously paused
- Increases in tuition rates
- Implementing a hold fee to reserve enrollment for families not currently in attendance
- Requesting optional payments from families not currently in attendance
- Offering discounts or assistance for families who have lost income due to COVID-19
- Modifying your policies on making tuition changes in the future, such as not refunding tuition in the case of future closures
- Switching to an online payment tool (such as brightwheel) to reduce the spread of germs
3. New guidelines around drop-off and pick-up schedules and procedures
Most centers are implementing new safety measures for drop-off and pick-up. Make sure your families understand your policies to avoid any confusion when they return. Clearly explain any of your center’s new policies, including:
- New pick-up and drop-off locations
- Updated schedules for pick-up and drop-off
- Requirements for safe sign-in, such as switching from pen and paper to a digital sign-in tool like brightwheel
- Health screening procedures you will be using during drop-off
- Any updates on which adults will be allowed in the building
4. Changes you’ve made to your facility, schedules, staff training, and other policies
Share any changes you’ve made to comply with state regulations and to keep students safe. Here are a few examples, but please feel free to include others that are specific to your center:
- Changes in daily schedules
- Changes in staff, such as new teachers or new groupings of students and staff
- Health policies, including when students will be sent home
- Cleaning policies
- Updates on which rooms or buildings students will be in
- Changes to meal time, especially if parents will need to begin packing a lunch for students
- Any paperless tools and processes you’re introducing, such as using brightwheel for billing and daily activity sheets
- Any additional information on how you’re keeping students and staff safe during COVID-19
Even if some of this information isn’t immediately actionable for families, it’s still valuable to keep them informed. Knowing that your center has thoroughly planned for a safe reopening will help put parents’ minds at ease.
5. Information you’d like families to share with their children before returning
The COVID-19 circumstances can be understandably scary and confusing for young children. You may want to ask families to talk with their children about what will be different when they return to your center. Parents can help prepare children for the “new normal” of seeing adults in masks, having reduced physical contact with their friends, keeping a different schedule, and more. It’s also helpful for families to teach children good health habits like proper handwashing and how to wear a mask (if appropriate for their age group). The CDC has a helpful resource for talking with children about COVID-19 that you may wish to share with your families.
6. How you’ll be communicating with them once their children return to your center
It's natural for families to have some anxiety as their kids return to school. Being transparent about how you’ll be sharing upcoming communications can go a long way in giving families peace of mind. Whether you send brief messages about what students are doing, share photos of their daily activities, or send out a newsletter with classroom updates, make sure your families know how to receive these updates and how frequently to expect them. You’ll also want to ensure families know how you’ll send urgent messages and alerts.
If you use brightwheel as your tool to communicate these updates, remind parents to download the brightwheel app so they don’t miss your important messages!
With any updates you communicate to families, be sure to emphasize why you’ve made these changes. It may seem like an overwhelming amount of information, but families want to know what you’re doing and why. Remember, families appreciate transparent communication. Be sure to invite families to respond to you with any questions or concerns they may have.
For additional guidance, be sure to read our article How to Communicate with Families During COVID-19.
Brightwheel makes it easy to communicate with families on an ongoing basis. For time-sensitive updates, brightwheel messaging is a fast and easy way to get in touch with one family or many families. For more in-depth communications, you can easily create a polished newsletter in brightwheel within minutes.
Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at mybrightwheel.com.