Pierce College childcare center hopeful to reopen

With schools making plans to soon reopen their campuses, childcare staff members at Pierce College believe it is important to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

On March 1, California announced that childcare workers are eligible to be vaccinated. California is in Phase 1B of vaccinations, covering about 12 million Californians. 

Director of the Child Development Center Melissa Brisbois said that vaccinations are important to keeping other people safe. 

“A lot of the time, elderly grandparents pick the children up,” Brisbois said. “I want to be sure that I am not spreading the virus. We’re at risk in a group setting.” 

Brisbois was told by health and safety instructors that working with children is like being on the “front line in the war,” with COVID. 

The CDC at Pierce is a state-funded institution that provides preschool for low-income families. The programs at the center help student-parents with childcare for children ages three to six before they begin at a regular school. 

On March 15, 2020, the CDC closed completely due to COVID-19. During spring break of 2020, the childcare center created a virtual program that began to include “family support.” 

“We created Zoom experiences specifically for children, and formed a Zoom schedule where we were meeting with them in small groups,” Brisbois said. 

Child Development associate professor Miyuki Yatsuya-Dix said that teachers send the parents links to activities each week for their children, as well as packages with classroom materials. 

“We don’t have much control,” Yatsuya said. “I don’t know how they are living or the kind of struggle they have. It’s not my place to judge. We just provide the best that we can.” 

 CDC workers have had to adjust to the conditions because of the pandemic. 

“One of the hardest parts about this is going on the screen,” Yatsuya said. “It goes against our entire philosophy. Our goal is to get children outside, digging in the sand, and swinging on the swings. Children need live, face to face interaction. I’m a huge advocate for no screen time.” 

Child Development adjunct professor Michelle Ventimiglia said Zoom poses challenges for young children. 

 “Zoom classes are hard to do with three and four year old’s,” Ventimiglia said. “They need to work with each other.” 

Brisbois said the CDC has a plan in place that is in line with the COVID guidelines, restrictions and advice from the Los Angeles Public Department of Health and the state of California. But it is at the discretion of the campus as to when the childcare can go back to the classroom. 

Brisbois said that they are taking a lot of factors into account, and that she’s doing everything she can to be there for the parents on an emotional level.

“Things are changing so rapidly, but the children have been resilient,” Brisbois said. “We need cases to go down. We want to do it as safely as possible.”