Building Closure Notice
October 4, 2021
Dear Parent and or Guardian,
Early Learning Connections is committed to providing you and your family with the safest and most quality early learning program possible. COVID-19 has been a challenge in maintaining staffing since the beginning of the school year. We are experiencing shortages not only in the classroom but also among management. As of today 10/4/21, the decision has been made, all Armstrong classrooms, both Head Start and Early Head Start that are not currently virtual will be virtual beginning 10/5/21 through 10/11/21 and will return in person Tuesday October 12, 2021. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Emily Snow at 724-287-2761, ext. 302 or Gina Young at 724-287-2761, ext. 425.
Family Engagement/ERSEA Director
September 17, 2021
Dear Parents and or Guardians,
I am writing this letter to notify you that out of an abundance of caution, we are going to be closing Bon Aire Building so that we can complete a deep cleaning of the entire building. The Centers for Disease Control [CDC] recommends closing a building if there are 5 students / teachers with positive COVID-19 cases in a 7-day period. The building will re-open on Wednesday September 22, 2021. If you were given a date for a previous quarantine please DO NOT return until that scheduled date.
We request that you closely monitor your child for any COVID-19 symptoms which include a fever of 100.4 or greater, persistent cough, headache, loss of taste or smell, fatigue, gastro-intestinal issues such as diarrhea, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
We continue to screen children for symptoms before school every morning including a fever of 100.4 or greater, persistent cough, headache, loss of taste or smell, fatigue, gastro-intestinal issues such as diarrhea, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Students who are sick with these symptoms should stay home from school. As always, your child’s physician is the best person to guide you regarding steps for keeping your child safe and healthy. We value your continued partnership and please feel free to contact me if you have questions at 724-287-2761 ext.121 or email me at COVID@earlylearningconnections.org . The ELC website at www.earlylearningconnections.org is updated regularly with COVID-19 information and parent resources.
Heather Efaw, Health and Nutrition Specialist
Vaccinating Head Start Staff: A Letter from the Director
Dear Head Start and Early Head Start staff,
I am writing you to share an important announcement from the Biden administration introducing a new requirement for Head Start programs. All Head Start employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19. This step is essential as we work together to build back out of this pandemic and move toward fully in-person services.
The past 19 months have been difficult, and you, the Head Start workforce, have navigated them with strength. I am grateful to each and every one of you. Your leadership, commitment, and the work that you do every single day to support infants, toddlers, preschool-aged children, and their families has been and continues to be invaluable.
Health and safety have always been core components of the Head Start program. Taking this step of getting vaccinated by January 2022 is another way to make sure our children, families, and colleagues remain safe. A vaccinated workforce is a key component to building the Head Start program back and preparing for stronger, more vibrant opportunities ahead. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has initiated rulemaking to implement this policy for Head Start programs.
The available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They prevent death and the most severe forms of the disease and keep those around us safe. Our Head Start children are not yet eligible for the vaccine. This means it’s even more important that adults who partner with families are fully vaccinated and the environments where children learn are safe and healthy. If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, I encourage you to talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or local health officials. You can learn more about the vaccines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Find a COVID-19 vaccination center near you at www.vaccines.gov.
Vaccination is a foundational part of the CDC-recommended, layered COVID-19 prevention strategies which help protect children and adults who are not fully vaccinated. Layered mitigation strategies include vaccines, masking, health screenings, physical distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene, and cleaning.
Effective July 20, 2021, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed his determination that a public emergency exists nationwide as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the initial declaration of the public health emergency in March 2020, it has been renewed every 90 days. The pandemic continues, and the presence of the Delta variant has increased anxiety.
Fortunately, we have more knowledge and tools available to us since the public emergency was first declared in March 2020. We have the COVID-19 vaccine, which is the safest and most effective way to protect individuals and the people they live and work with from getting COVID-19. We also understand the importance of layered mitigation strategies. Moreover, we have 19 months of experience, as exemplified by Head Start and Early Head Start programs during our fifth Head Start Forward webinar. A Showcase of Grantee Best Practices on In-person Services highlights successful experiences and strategies for serving children in person during the pandemic.
As you continue the critical work you do each day, please be reminded of the guidance the Office of Head Start (OHS) has issued as part of the Head Start Forward campaign.
The Head Start Forward campaign was developed in real-time to give programs clarity and guidance in a timely manner so they could plan and make decisions, while ensuring local health conditions remain the primary decision-making factor. Materials include on-demand webinars, guidance, and other resources OHS has developed to address areas of immediate concern to programs. They focus on eligibility, recruitment, selection, enrollment, and attendance (ERSEA), mental health and staff wellness, health and safety considerations, and equity.
We at OHS will continue working with the CDC to monitor conditions throughout the fall and will update expectations as necessary.
I thank you in advance Head Start family, for making this commitment and for answering the call to lead, as you have many times before. During this challenging time, I encourage you to think about sustainable ways of prioritizing your health and wellness and that of your team. Keep yourself strong and healthy so you can do what Head Start does best: engage, nurture, teach, and support children and families face-to-face. Sleeve up and mask up, Head Start family, as it’s the best way we can care for and protect each other.
We are in this together and we are stronger together. Thank you for your work on behalf of children and families.
/ Dr. Bernadine Futrell /
Dr. Bernadine Futrell
Office of Head Start
Dr. Bernadine Futrell is the Director of the Office of Head Start.