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 will offer emergency childcare to essential workers working or living in San Mateo County while classroom instruction has been suspended and our community is ordered to shelter-in-place.


    This program will begin operations on April 6, 2020 at the MPCSD Laurel School Lower Campus located at 95 Edge Road in Atherton.  Program hours are 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Registrations will be offered in one-week increments. 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.  


    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

    • Groups will be in stable groups of 12 or fewer.  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 throughout the week.


    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, complete distance learning school assignments and maintain an academic, productive afternoon so that first responders can focus on supporting our community during this time.  The daily schedule will be as follows:

    • 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 p.m.: Outdoor Play
    • 1-3:30 p.m.: Newton Labs, quiet games, free play, and additional outdoor play
    • 3:30-6:00 p.m.: End of day cleanup and pickup


    Distance Learning: Program staff will support your child in completing their school assignments.  Please remember to send your child’s mobile device (laptop, Chromebook, or tablet) to complete his/her assignment(s).  Additionally, we will ask that you email us your child’s assignments so we can provide them to our staff in advance.  


    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.  


    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.  


    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 your child’s lunch bag in its own separate zip lock bag).  Please note that you will not be allowed to include nuts 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. 


    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.


    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: To help limit contamination of our facility, you will only be allowed to send your child to our program with limited personal belongings.  Including: device to complete distance learning work, paperwork for assignments, lunch and other food as explained above, and one jacket. Please pack all of your child’s belongings in a clean backback.  Backpacks will be stored outside throughout the day. Toys from home will not be allowed.   


    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 steps will be taken:

    • Upon arrival to our site, you will be required to call our site phone so that a staff member can meet you at our sign in and out station.  
    • You will not be allowed into our classrooms or facility.  
    • 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.  
    • Our staff will maintain 6 feet of distance from you at drop off and pick up. 
    • 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.  
    • At check-in your child will be screened for illness, which will include a Health and Safety Check as well as an Intake Health Questionnaire.  


    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.  


    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. We are making every effort to provide forehead thermometers for the program, with a plan to check temperatures daily upon check-in.  We may not have thermometers at each site on opening day. If possible, please check your child’s temperature before arriving. If a child’s temperature is above 100 degrees Farenheit, 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 a prolonged cough, fever, or flu-like symptoms?  Or, 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? We will consider a fever as 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above using a forehead thermometer.   
    • 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, uncontrolled coughing, unusually tired, persistent crying, etc
    • Open sores, rash, signs of infection, etc
    • Runny nose with colored mucus


    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 week.  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. 


    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 at $400 per child, per week.  


    Questions and Contacts:  If you have any questions about this document, staffing, and logistics, please email our office at