The William S. Hart Union High School District is offering day care services at one of its sites exclusively for its employees with children in grades K-6, according to officials.
A Step Ahead, an after-school program for school-aged children and a subsidiary of Montessori schools, will offer services for $500 a month per child, Erin Johnson, who runs the certified program and is the regional director for Montessori schools, confirmed Tuesday.
Recent emails from Fayanne Bakoo, Arroyo Seco Junior High School assistant principal, and Kathy Hunter, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services, to staff confirmed the day care services would commence Aug. 10.
“Thanks to Fayanne Bakoo’s hard work, the district is partnering with Montessori to provide an additional day care option for children grades K-6, exclusively for Hart District staff,” read the email sent to staff Monday.
Services for school-aged children are set to take place at Arroyo Seco “and if the need arises, we will grow the program into additional satellite locations,” read the email. Parents will also have the option to enroll their children, ages six weeks through kindergarten, at a Montessori location at a 10% discount.
“Teachers who need care for their own children, school-aged children, the program will be available and then where Montessori comes in, is for parents who need care for their younger children,” said Johnson.
There is no cost to the Hart District for the operations, according to district spokesman Dave Caldwell, who added that “If staff wants to use the resource they would contact Montessori, which has been great in working with us. If the demand warrants, there is the possibility of opening additional sites.”
The program will offer a schedule from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and provide children with snacks, indoor centers and outdoor recess, as well as assistance to complete any schoolwork, according to a flier sent to district staff. Each class would include 10 students.
In the email, Hunter said safety measures would be followed for the day care services offered.
“The Montessori satellite location(s) will follow all safety guidelines that are required by schools. This includes temperature checks of students and staff, as well as masks being worn. Students will be socially distanced and outdoors (weather permitting) during lunchtime,” she said.
The announcement comes as the Hart District and the remaining four other public school districts within the SCV postponed their return to physical campuses in the fall and continued online learning formats due to continuing developments with the COVID-19 crisis. On July 17, Gov. Gavin Newsom had also announced that he would prohibit schools in counties on California’s coronavirus watchlist from reopening, Los Angeles County among them.
Last month, Hart District officials said it would wait five weeks after the first day of school to reevaluate its position, and see if it’s safe and/or allowable to move forward with a blended model, or having different groups of students attend in-person classes on alternating days.
Upon receiving the emails about the day care services from Hart District officials, one parent-staffer who wished not to be identified said she was not in full support of the services.
“I know they are trying to take care of their workforce, but I don’t understand how the teachers can say it’s not safe for students to be on campus, but then turn around and bring their own students to campus and receive all these in-person services that have been denied other parents who cannot afford to pay for them,” the parent-teacher said in an email to The Signal.
Johnson said day care services differ from reopening schools and resuming in-person classes when considering population sizes.
“With child care services, those are different in that the amount of students that would physically be on campus for public school is larger. Child care is considered essential, which is why they are allowed (to operate),” she said.
Child care facilities were only permitted to reopen for children of essential workers under California’s stay-at-home orders in March. In early June, the state offered these providers a green light to reopen for all kids if locations met the coronavirus safety protocols such as grouping children into small groups, practicing physical distancing and wearing face coverings.