Springfield, MA – Following months of planning and preparation, the Square One early learning team will be reopening its preschool and school-age classrooms at the end of this month.
With guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education & Care (EEC), the centers on Main Street, King Street, and Sumner Avenue in Springfield will reopen on Monday, June 29, 2020.
The agency’s 35 family child care locations throughout the region will also reopen on a staggered basis beginning at the end of the month.
“We have been working side by side with EEC since day one of the pandemic,” says Maria Bedard, Vice President of Early Education at Square One. “Our classrooms and our curriculums have been reconfigured to meet the new health and safety requirements from EEC, and our educators and therapists have been training to prepare for a variety of scenarios. We know that some children will transition easily back into our programs while others will take more time and need more support.”
Under the COVID-19 guidelines, the center-based programs can accommodate 50 percent of the children served prior to the pandemic. Family child care programs may return to full capacity, provided social distancing is practiced and all COVID protocols are in place. Families with questions about enrollment opportunities for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children are asked to contact Square One’s enrollment office at 413.732.5183.
“It is hard to believe that it has been over three months since our world was turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic,” says Joan Kagan, President & CEO of Square One. “We are extremely grateful to all of the foundations, businesses and individuals who have supported us during this time. Their generosity has enabled us to continue to provide remote programs and services, while also preparing for our reopening and the challenges that await us.”
Support from companies such as Cartamundi, who donated a supply of facial shields, have taken away some of the burden of COVID-related expenses.
“Now more than ever, in this time of extreme needs, we are honored to have been able to provide the essential face shields that will help to protect the children, families and team at Square One,” Sandi Mauro Vice President, Human Resources, North America, Cartamundi. “We wish everyone a safe, successful reopening and thank you with our sincerest appreciation for your service to our community.”
Beyond the need for supplies and expenses associated with adapting its facilities, financial support from the LEGO Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has enabled Square One to respond to families’ needs for diapers, food and other essentials, as well as therapy services to address the social emotional challenges endured during this time. These services have been available throughout the shutdown and will continue following the reopening of the early education centers.
“During this pandemic, a top priority of ours has been to ensure that vulnerable families with young children remain connected to early learning supports, and when needed, have access to flexible basic needs supports,” says James Ayres, Vice President for Programs and Strategy, the Community Foundation. “We have been pleased to support our partners at Square One to this end.”
“At the LEGO Group, one of our core values is caring, and we have been caring for the wellbeing and development of children and their families for more than 85 years,” says Skip Kodak, President, LEGO Systems, Inc. “We are proud to continue this tradition and to do our part through charitable giving throughout the world during this challenging time. We are honored that we are able to help Square One in such a way that will provide families with the necessary support needed right now and for the future.”
“We are so fortunate to have such amazing community partners, who value what Square One brings to our children and families,” says Kagan. “Thank you to all of the businesses and individuals who have taken the time to understand how this crisis has impacted our programs and services; and continue to support us now and moving forward.”
Square One currently provides early learning services to over 500 infants, toddlers and school-age children each day; and family support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives. The large majority of Square One families are coming from situations involving poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, incarceration, substance abuse, domestic violence, and other significant issues that may inhibit their ability to provide a quality early learning experience for their children, if the proper services are not made available to them.
For more information on Square One or to make a donation, visit www.startatsquareone.org or call 413.732.5183.