COVID-19 Essential Worker Childcare

  • Newton Center COVID-19 Emergency Childcare Program Details


    Newton Center with the support of the Menlo Park City School District offers emergency childcare to children of essential workers working or living in San Mateo County while classroom instruction has been suspended and our community is ordered to shelter-in-place. 


    Children ages 3 - 13 years old will be served by the program. Children must be fully toilet trained to participate in the program. This means that children must be wearing underwear, know how to clean themselves, and be able to express their toileting needs in time to get to a bathroom. Children who have regular toileting accidents during the emergency child care program will not be allowed to continue in the program.  We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.


    This program began operations on April 6, 2020 at the MPCSD Lower Laurel Campus located at 95 Edge Road in Atherton. The program continues to operate as the shelter-in-place health order is modified and until further notice.  Program hours are 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Registrations will be offered for daily increments with priority given to those families requiring a full week of care.  Drop-in childcare will not be offered.


    Program spots are limited and will initially be offered to frontline hospital workers, public-school teachers, and public safety officers who serve San Mateo County.  Should additional spots be available, we will offer them to all remaining categories of essential workers as defined in the March 31, 2020 San Mateo County Health Officer Order Extending Shelter in Place Through May 3.  Details of this agreement may change if the San Mateo County Shelter in Place order and/or the California Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing regulations for COVID-19 are updated or modified. 


    The program will follow social distancing guidelines for childcare programs as explained in the March 16, 2020 San Mateo County Health Officer Order for Shelter in Place including:

    • This program will limit group sizes to no more than 10 children per classroom.  
    • Children will not change from one group to another.  
    • If we have more than one group on site, each group will be in a separate room and will not mix with each other.
    • Staff will remain solely with one group of children each day.


    The program activities will be offered while maintaining as best as possible all social distancing requirements such as maintaining at least a six-foot distance from all individuals; frequently washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer; following proper respiratory etiquette; and excluding children and staff from the program with contagious symptoms such as fever or cough.  Please understand that although we will take precautions to limit exposure to COVID-19, we provide no assurances and cannot guarantee that you or your child will not be exposed to the virus or become ill.


    The focus of this program is to support children of first responders and other essential workers, help school-age children complete distance learning school assignments and maintain an academic, productive and enjoyable day so that first responders can focus on supporting our community during this time.  


    The following precautions will be taken to mitigate and limit the spread of infection:


    Reinforcing social and physical distancing

    • Model social distancing when interacting with children, families, and staff.
    • Role-play what social distancing looks like by demonstrating the recommended distance.
    • Give frequent verbal reminders to children.
    • Read scripted stories and use visual reminders, signage and direct instruction to reinforce social distancing, handwashing, proper etiquette for sneezes, coughs, etc.


    Practicing healthy hygiene

    • Teach, model, and reinforce healthy habits and social skills.
    • Explain to children why it’s not healthy to share drinks or food, particularly when sick.
    • Practice frequent handwashing by teaching a popular child-friendly song or counting to 20 (handwashing should last 20 seconds).
    • Teach children to use tissue to wipe their nose and to cough inside their elbow.
    • Model and practice handwashing before and after eating, after coughing or sneezing, after playing outside, and after using the restroom. 


    Implementing procedures to frequently clean all touched surfaces

    • Have multiple toys and manipulatives accessible that are easy to clean and sanitize throughout the day.
    • Limit the amount of sharing.
    • Offer more opportunities for individual play and solo activities, such as fine motor activities (i.e., drawing, coloring, cutting, puzzles, and other manipulatives).
    • Plan activities that do not require close physical contact between multiple children.
    • Stagger indoor and outdoor play and adjust schedules to reduce the number of children in the same area.
    • Designate a tub for toys that need to be disinfected after use.
    • Sanitize the sink and toilet handles before and after each child’s use.
    • Wash hands for 20 seconds and use paper towels (or single use cloth towels) to dry hands thoroughly. 


    The daily schedule for school age children will be as follows (handwashing will occur before and after each activity, meal, and change in location):

    • 7-9 a.m.: Drop off, morning activities, group check in (review of the day’s schedule, rules, and facility expectations)
    • 9-9:30 a.m.: Morning snack, outdoor play 
    • 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.: Complete distance learning assignments from school
    • 12-12:30 p.m.: Lunch
    • 12:30-1:00 p.m.: Outdoor Play
    • 1-5:30 p.m.: Newton Labs, quiet games, free play inside and outside
    • 5:30-6:00 p.m.: End of day cleanup and pickup


    The daily schedule for children 3-5 years will be as follows (handwashing will occur before and after each activity, meal, and change in location):

    • 7-9 a.m.: Drop off, morning free play activities, group check in (review of the day’s schedule, rules, and facility expectations)
    • 9-10:15 a.m.: Circle time, distance learning with MPCSD Early Learning Center preschool teachers via Zoom,  organized activities
    • 10:15-10:30 a.m.: Snack
    • 10:30 a.m.- 12 p.m.: Outdoor play
    • 12-12:30 p.m.: Lunch
    • 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Nap, rest and quiet activities
    • 2:30-3 p.m.: Snack
    • 3-3:15 p.m.: Spanish Circle time with MPCSD ELC teachers via Zoom
    • 3:15-5:30 p.m.: Newton Labs, quiet games, free play inside and outside
    • 5:30-6 p.m.: End of day cleanup and pickup


    Distance Learning for School-Age Children:


    School Assignments: Program staff will support your child to complete their school assignments.  Please remember to send your child’s mobile device (laptop, Chromebook, or tablet) to complete his/her assignments.  Additionally, we will ask that, if possible, you email us your child’s assignments ahead of time so we can provide them to our staff in advance. Please inform your child’s teachers that Newton, Inc. will be providing supervision and support during the school day.  


    Reading: As part of the daily distance learning period we will have your child complete their assigned school reading.  We ask that you make sure your child has their book with them every day. For younger grades, our staff will read to your child each day.  


    Non-homework Screen Time: We will allow your child to use their device (brought from home to complete distance learning) for 2 sessions of 15 minutes of screen time each day.  During this time, we will allow children to pre-select a list of acceptable computer or tablet games. Games that involve any type of violence will not be allowed.


    Distance Learning for Preschool-Age Children:


    Newton staff will organize fun and engaging games, activities and art projects throughout the day with an eye on maintaining social distancing,  and will read to children on a regular basis.


    Preschool-age children will have access to the MPCSD Early Learning Center’s daily circle times and activities in English, Spanish and Mandarin via Zoom with ELC teachers, for a minimum of 2 hours a day. 


    Preschool children are asked not to bring their personal electronic devices to school. Teachers will project lessons on a classroom screen for all children to engage in if they so choose. 


    Nap: Children will rest from 12:30-2:30. We will provide a mat which will be cleaned daily. Each child should bring a crib size sheet and small blanket or a small sleeping bag. Mats will be spaced 6 feet apart from each other and arranged to lessen the possible spread of illness between children. 

    Outdoor Play: In order to maintain at least 6-feet distance from each other, children will not have access to the play structures and each child will be required to play in a pre-designated space.  Preschool children will have access to tricycles, mini-trampolines and other outdoor equipment that will be disinfected after each outdoor play session 


    Lunch: Should weather permit, we will eat lunch outside while maintaining 6-feet distance from each other.  You will be required to send a lunch for your child each day. We ask that you send your child’s lunch in a zip lock bag.  We will not have a refrigerator or microwave available for your child to use. If your child’s lunch needs to be chilled, please use an ice pack (and include it in your child’s lunch bag in its own separate zip lock bag).  Please note that you will not be allowed to include nuts of any kind or order delivery for your child’s lunch. 


    Snack: A morning and afternoon snack will be offered by Newton Center.  We will use the information you provide during the registration process to meet your child’s dietary restrictions as best as possible.  Should we be unable to meet your child’s restrictions, we will ask that you provide two daily snacks for your child following the same lunch guidelines explained above.


    Newton Labs: These are educational and fun hands-on learning programs that we will offer your child each afternoon.  To limit your child’s exposure to additional staff, we will have lab instructors join us via online video conferencing.  Lab activities will include science, active play, cooking, art, and trivia programming. 

    Other activities: We will have a variety of other activities for your child to participate in throughout the day.  These activities will be offered in group and individual settings where children interact with each other while maintaining 6-feet distance from each other.  For example, board games will be played as a group with an instructor leading the game from the front of the classroom, moving the pieces for the group. And, humma beads will be available to each child individually at their desk with left over beads discarded of at the end of each day.  


    Rainy Days: We will adjust our daily schedule on rainy days to exclude outdoor time and instead a G-rated movie will be watched.  


    Regular Handwashing: Throughout the day your child will be required to wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol before and after eating, drinking, touching eye/nose/mouth, toileting and physical contact with each other.  


    Toys and Other Items from Home: Please pack all of your child’s belongings in a clean backpack.  Backpacks will be stored outside throughout the day. Toys from home will not be allowed. All items MUST be labeled with children’s names. To help limit contamination of our facility, you will only be allowed to send your child to our program with limited personal belongings, including:.  


     School Age Children: 

    • Lunch and other food as explained above.
    • Device to complete distance learning work, paperwork for assignments.
    • One jacket.  


    Preschool Age Children: 

    • Lunch and other food as explained above
    • 1-2 changes of clothing, including underwear, socks, shoes, shirts and pants/skirts/dresses (label all clothing items with children’s names)
    • Crib size sheet and small blanket or small sleeping bag for napping.


    Facility and Equipment Daily Cleaning and Sanitizing: The facility will be cleaned daily by the MPCSD Janitorial Team.  Throughout the day, high-contact areas and surfaces, including counters, toys, telephones, and doorknobs, will also be frequently cleaned using EPA approved disinfectant.  


    Intake Check-In and Pick up/Sign Out: Our check-in and sign out procedures will be modified to limit outside adult to student interaction beyond the site staff and children.  


    The following procedures will be followed:

    1. Upon arrival at our site, you will be asked to call our site phone so that a staff member can meet you at your car in the carpool lane.  We ask that you do not get out of your car.
    2. At your car, our staff will provide you with a Health Questionnaire to complete (see details below).   You will need to complete the document using your own pen. Your signature from this document will be used as your sign in signature.  
    3. Next, our staff will review your Health Questionnaire answers and verify that your child is eligible to participate in the program.  Upon verification, our staff will ask that your child exit the car.
    4. Our staff will provide your child with hand sanitizer.  Children ages 5 and up will be required to wear a Newton provided face covering.  Thereafter, your child’s temperature will be taken by one of our staff members as well as a visual health and safety check.
    5. Should your child show no signs of illness, your child will be walked to our classroom where they will be asked to wash their hands.  
    6. At pickup, we ask that you follow Step 1.  Our staff will meet you at your car with your child and ask that you sign out your child using your own pen.



    • As part of your registration, you will be required to upload a copy of the adult’s driver’s license that will drop off and pick up your child.  Our staff will have a copy of the driver’s license you submit on file to use in verifying your identity at pickup.  
    • To help us keep social distancing, we ask that you roll down your car window only enough to accept our clipboard.  
    • Your child will be required to wear a Newton provided face covering that will either be a 1-day use covering or reusable covering that our team sanitized.  We ask that you do not send your child to our program with a face covering from home. 
    • We ask that you do not send older people such as grandparents to pick up your child as they are more at risk for serious illness.  


    Health & Safety Checks:  The health and safety check will include taking the temperature of your child and completing a visual inspection of your child for signs of infection.  


    Please check your child’s temperature before arriving.  It is vital that all parents and guardians keep children at home if they are sick or until a fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine. Program staff will plan to check temperatures daily upon check-in.  If a child’s temperature is above 100.4F/38C, they will be excluded from participation in the program.


    Health Questionnaire at Intake: Staff and parents will be required to respond to the following questionnaire daily upon intake.  Should staff or parents respond yes to any of these questions, they or their child will not be allowed to participate in the program. 

    • Do you or your child live with anyone or have you or your child had close contact with anyone with signs of communicable illness including, but not limited to: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any flu-like symptoms?
    • Do you or your child live with anyone or have you or your child had close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days?
    • Do you or your child have a fever, cough and/or shortness of breath? (Fever is 100.4F/ 38C or above measured using a forehead thermometer).
    • Has your child taken any fever reducing medications in the prior 24 hours?
    • Do you or your child have any other signs of communicable illness such as a cold or flu?
    • Have you or your child experienced diarrhea or vomiting within the past 24 hours?


    Signs of Illness During Program:  Children will be monitored for signs of illness throughout the day.  If your child shows signs of illness, we will immediately separate them from the group and require that they wear a surgical mask until pick-up.  To be eligible to return to the program, you will be required to certify that your child’s symptoms have been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine.  By enrolling in this program, you are required to and agree to come pickup your child without delay if they are exhibiting any of the following symptoms:

    • Headache or tiredness, unable to participate in routine activities or need more care than staff can provide
    • Fever with behavior changes, difficulty breathing, coughing, unusually tired, persistent crying, etc.
    • Open sores, rash, signs of infection, etc.
    • Runny nose with colored mucus
    • Diarrhea or vomiting


    Child to Staff Ratio:  Each classroom of 10 students will have 2 staff members.  The same 2 staff members will be with your child throughout the entire day.  We will try to maintain the same group of children with the same staff members for consecutive days.  At least one staff member in each room will have completed 9 or more college level Early Childhood Education Units and have 2 or more years of experience working with children.  One of the staff members on site will be a fully qualified school age childcare director. Please note that this is our plan as of April 6, 2020, however, staffing modifications may be required based on staff health and well-being. 


    Staff Requirements:  To help ensure the health and safety of the group, our staff will be required to be:

    • Screened daily for fever or cough at home, before entering the facility, and throughout the day
    • Excluded from the facility should they have a fever or cough
    • Practice good respiratory hygiene 
    • Wear a surgical mask and gloves as much as possible throughout the day
    • Not be allowed to return to the program until any symptoms of illness have been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of medicine
    • Wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol before and after eating, drinking, touching eye/nose/mouth, toileting and physical contact with each other.  


    Other Precautions We Will Take: The following are additional precautions we will take to help limit exposure of children and staff to COVID-19 and other communicable illnesses:  

    • Review all updates from CDC, CDSS and local public health on guidance for childcare centers
    • Post signage of COVID-19 risk assessment and preventative measures
    • Restrict activities and visitors including parent visits
    • Implement social distancing best practices including no hugs or shaking hands
    • Teach and model social distancing greetings
    • Keep emergency contact information up to date


    Application, Registration, and Tuition: To apply for this program, parents/guardians will first be required to fill out an application here


    Upon submitting your application, we will review the documentation you provide to verify your eligibility as an essential worker.  We will also review the information you provide in your application including your child’s health, medical, dietary, and request for special assistance.  


    Should a spot be offered to you, we will inform you via email.  You will then have 24 hours to accept the spot by submitting payment. 


    Through the generous contributions of Newton Center families and donors, we are able to offer this program with no formal tuition rate for the time being.  Instead, we ask that you pay whatever amount your family can afford. Our suggested tuition rate is $400 per week.  


    Questions and Contacts:  If you have any questions about this document, staffing, and logistics, please email our office at or call us at 650-345-4043.