Independence County preschool switches gears to provide childcare services for essential workers

Preschool offers childcare services for essential workers

BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) -An Independence County school is finding a way to lend a helping hand to those on the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Batesville Preschool reopened its doors to provide a safe place for children while their parents work to save lives.

“We have people in the community who need to work and get back to work, and they need someone consistent who can be with their child and keep their child safe,” said Michelle Puckett, director of the preschool director.

The facility normally tends to more than 300 baby Pioneers, but during this pandemic, the school transformed into a childcare center for about 60 parents who need it most.

According to Puckett, they were given the blessing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Arkansas Department of Educations, and the Department of Human Services to provide childcare for essential workers.

Among the children attending are those who work at White River Medical Center.

Staff at the facility say that they are willing to go the extra mile for those who have no choice but to work.

“This is not a decision that we just said ‘Hey let’s just throw it out there and see what we can do.’ We researched, we collaborated with other childcare facilities in the area to make sure we are doing the best for these families and these children,” Puckett said.

The school has also implemented new safety protocols, including taking the temperatures of employees, children, and their parents who drop them off; classroom ratios have been reduced to 10 students or less; toys and napping materials are cleaned daily.

While they are still doing some small organized learning, Puckett said they are not operating as a preschool and that parents are paying the normal tuition of $90 a week.

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