BOONE — Local nonprofits and child care centers are making changes to their regular office hours and service practices while continuing to support High Country families amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The CDC’s statement regarding the risk for children can be found online, along with resources for parents to utilize, at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children-faq.html.
The Watauga County Children’s Council has placed its regular programming on hold and its office will be closed to visitors until April 3, tentatively. Staff will continue to be available to clients via email and phone unless otherwise communicated, according to Mary Scott, associate director of The Children’s Council.
“We will continue to offer our free Diaper Bank to Watauga County families on Wednesdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.,” Scott said, including that this service provides diapers, wipes and formula to families in need. “We ask that people call our office ahead of time to let us know what they need, and we will bring these items out to their car when they arrive … We are also seeking donations for diapers, wipes and formulas to help us fill this need in our community.”
The Children’s Council is also “working on a resource list for families” that it intends to share by March 20.
“We want families to know that we are still here for them and available to help with their needs,” said Scott.
Regardless of school closures and social distancing, Scott said, “There are so many ways to turn this time at home into quality time and turn our focus into connecting with our family.”
“Activities such as reading together, cooking, artwork, family dance party, nature walks, making up stories, finger painting,” Scott said. “Children really just love to do things with their parents, so while these may seem like simple activities, they mean the world to our little ones.”
The Children’s Council includes educational and family-oriented activities in its daily Facebook posts, which can be found at www.facebook.com/thechildrenscouncil.
The Lynhill Day Care & Development Center, located at 565 George Wilson Road in Boone, has recently seen “reduced numbers in child attendance to about half,” according to Director Angela Zuback.
Children at the Lynhill facility are between the ages of 6 weeks old to 5 years old, and staff members highlight early childhood education, including aspects involving math and logic.
Zuback said that parents or caregivers who are educating their children from home can practice writing, play with building blocks and recite numbers and letters.
Mary’s Montessori School is closing its doors, for the time being, on Friday, March 20.
“Last week we had one-third of our numbers; parents were already social distancing due to worry, being out of work anyway or children being ill (coughs),” said Mary Willis, the school’s director.
Willis said that she has organized a Google Doc resource for the parents of her students and adds activity ideas and other resources to it daily. She is also hosting a daily story time on her YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQsgFXPAYMBzlWENv2bIaw.
“In the Montessori philosophy, much is taught through what is called ‘practical life’: hand sewing, baking and cooking in general, sorting socks and folding laundry,” said Willis. “These skills are lifelong skills (of) concentration, care, order, independence and problem solving. Jane Nelson of Positive Discipline advises having a family meeting every morning to make a plan, divide up jobs, plan for fun and problem solve, so that the children see themselves as important and helpful.”
Both Zuback of the Lynhill Day Care & Development Center and Willis of Mary’s Montessori School recommended parents utilize services offered by the Children’s Council during this stressful time.
Additional resources and activity ideas for parents are available online through the Watauga County Children’s Council website at www.thechildrenscouncil.org. Check with specific daycare centers for updated and accurate information regarding their current plans of action.