COVID-19 response plan

Stepping Stones Nursery School is committed to the health and safety of our families and teachers. We are vigilant in meeting and exceeding all safety guidelines mandated by federal, state and local entities.

Thankfully, our philosophy to early childhood education already includes values that promote health and safety, such as small class sizes and ample outdoor time. Below are some of the precautions and approaches we have implemented to protect our community during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

stepping stones lincoln square preschool girl playing with trucks

risk: virus or communicable disease introduced into the environment

Stepping Stones will follow enhanced protocol during a pandemic or other Health Emergency to mitigate risk of the virus infecting the school community.


  1. general guidance
    • During a Health Emergency, Stepping Stones will limit all non essential outside visitors. For essential persons, a log shall be maintained including date/time, name, phone number/cell number and email. All visitors will receive a health check before entry.
    • Signs will be posted outside the entrance restricting entry to anyone with symptoms of illness/respiratory infection.
    • If there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, or other Health Emergency: Parents will be notified immediately via email and reminded of the procedures in place to mitigate spreading.

  2. personal protective equipment
    • Stepping Stones shall supply personal protective equipment (PPE), including, face masks or face shields for staff and children, aprons, and gloves.
    • Staff shall wear a mask or face shield at all times;
    • Non-permeable gloves shall be worn while serving food, diaper changing and/or dealing with wounds. Frequent hand washing is required when gloves are not in usage; and
    • Children ages 2 years and up, when tolerable, shall wear a face mask when arriving at and leaving the daycare center, when in hallways, and throughout the day, except when napping, playing outdoors or eating.

  3. drop off and pick up procedures
    • Parents will be asked to drop children off and pick them up in our front vestibule where a Health Screening Station is set up, and a designated staff person is waiting to receive the child.
    • Staggered drop-off and pick-up times will be arranged with families to avoid overcrowding of children and parents/guardians in confined spaces. Ground markers will be used to promote social distancing during drop off and pick up.
    • Only one parent/guardian may accompany the child during drop off and pick up.
    • Parents/guardians must wear a face mask during drop off and pick up, and use the hand sanitizer provided. Parents may not enter other areas of the school or classroom.
    • The designated staff person will perform the Health Screening and escort the child to his/her classroom.
    • The child’s shoes must be removed before entering the classroom.
    • During Pick Up, the Parent/Guardian sends a message to the teacher via Brightwheel that they are in route for pick up, Teacher helps the child prepare, and the designated staff member escorts the child from their classroom to the front vestibule for departure.

  4. health screenings
    • Daily health checks will take place for all persons entering the day care center, including, but not limited to, all staff, children, parents, legal guardians, cleaning staff, caterers, nurses, visitors and authorized representatives of the department that enter the premises. These checks shall include temperature checks and symptom observations that are completed according to CDC guidance.
    • A designated staff member will welcome the child or staff member into the screening area, take their temperature with a no touch thermometer, and record for monitoring purposes. Any person with a fever of 100.4 or higher will be automatically excluded from programming.
    • The designated staff member will perform a quick screen for symptoms of exclusion. Symptoms related to COVID 19 include:
      • Fever of 100.4 or higher
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath
      • Diarrhea
      • Excessive tiredness or lethargy
    • If a child or staff member is excluded upon arrival, they must have medical clearance to return to school

  5. sick/exclusion policy for children
    • Home Screening: All parents/guardians are asked to do their own health screenings at home to catch signs of the virus before introducing it to the school community. We ask that parents contact us immediately if they notice any of the following symptoms and keep their child home until they can get medical clearance to return.
      • Fever of 100.4 or higher
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath
      • Diarrhea
      • Excessive tiredness or lethargy
    • Drop off Screening: Children will be screened for symptoms of exclusion each morning as outlined in the health screening protocol. If a child exhibits any of the symptoms listed above during their health screening at drop off, they will be excluded from care until they can get medical clearance to return.
    • Developing symptoms onsite: If a child starts exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms at school, parents will be contacted immediately. The child will be safely taken out of the classroom and into the designated isolation area for further evaluation. Any employee with the child will be in appropriate PPE prior to providing assistance.
    • Readmittance to care: after exclusion during a health emergency, a medical form must be filled out and returned before the child can be readmitted into care. These forms require a written diagnosis from the child’s physician (not a nurse) and must state the following information:
      • The child’s name.
      • The diagnosis
      • The treatment
      • Length of recommended exclusion
      • Clearance which states that the child can return without the risk of infection to others.

  6. sick/exclusion policy for staff
    • Home Screening: All staff are asked to do their own health screenings at home to catch signs of the virus before introducing it to the school community. We ask that staff follow the appropriate procedures outlined in the employee handbook to call off sick if they are feeling unwell, and especially if have any of the following symptoms:
      • Fever of 100.4 or higher
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath
      • Diarrhea
      • Excessive tiredness or lethargy
    • Onsite Health Screening: The onsite health screening is done in the screening area before an employee’s shift. Each employee will be asked screening questions, and will be assessed for any overt signs or symptoms by the designated staff person. Each employee’s temperature will be taken using a non-touch thermometer and logged for monitoring.
    • Developing Symptoms onsite: If an employee feels symptomatic for COVID-19 at work, they must tell the Education Director immediately using Slack or a phone call from their classroom.
    • The isolation team and coordinator must don the appropriate PPE prior to providing assistance to the symptomatic employee.
      The Education Director will ensure children are safely supervised, and take the symptomatic employee to the designated isolation area for further evaluation.
    • From this point forward, all employees coming into direct contact (less than 3 feet) with the symptomatic employee are required to use all PPE
    • The symptomatic employee must wear a mask and gloves (to help protect other employees and prevent spread any potential virus)
    • All employees continue to maintain 6 feet distance at all times
    • The Education Director completes a COVID-19 Case Form with the symptomatic employee.
    • If the employee is suspected to have COVID-19 symptoms, the employee is sent home and/or directly to the health center and must seek and present medical clearance to return to work.

  7. COVID 19 confirmed case
  8. If COVID-19 is confirmed in a child or staff member:

    • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
    • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the areas.
    • Wait up to 24 hours or as long as possible before you clean or disinfect to allow respiratory droplets to settle before cleaning and disinfecting.
    • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, and common areas.
    • If more than 7 days have passed since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.
    • Continue routine cleaning and disinfection.

  9. communication plan
  10. Parents/guardians and staff must immediately notify SSNS:

    • If they or someone in the household tests positive for COVID-19, or
      if the staff or child has been in close contact (within 3 feet) with a positive case or with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
      The Education Director will initiate the communication plan to update the school community on possible exposure. This communication will not include the name of the person connected to the diagnosis or exposure, but will include the name of the room the child or staff member was in.
    • Children – Families will be notified, by email and Brightwheel if their child has come in contact with someone who has been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Staff – Staff will be notified, by email and Slack if they have come in contact with a child or co-worker who has been exposed to someone or has tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Reporting – SSNS will notify IDPH, CDC and the local Licensing Office immediately upon being informed of any exposure to COVID-19 by telephone and follow-up in writing to the local Licensing office. We will follow their recommended course of action.
    • Returning – Any child or staff member suspected of having or diagnosed with COVID-19 – or having been in contact with anyone suspected of or diagnosed with COVID-19 – shall be excluded from the school until written documentation is provided by a physician that the child or staff member is no longer communicable and may return to the school.

  11. cleaning, disinfecting and maintaining our spaces
  12. Disinfection measures have been put in place to disinfect the center’s surfaces, chairs, tables, door knobs/handles, floors, and all other high touch points throughout the school.

    • New Disinfection Protocol led by the Education Director has been established at each location, and is carried out daily by the staff at that site.
    • As necessary, the staff is trained and equipped to use special Personal Protective Equipment to deal with potentially harmful chemicals used in sanitization.
    • All employees have an active part in disinfection of their classrooms and common areas daily. We have also reviewed and enhanced good personal sanitary practices including:
      • Handwashing procedures for all children and staff
      • Proper use of PPE inside and outside of the classroom, and
      • Maintaining social distancing in common areas
    • In the event that there is an active employee or participant who has confirmed positive for COVID-19 by a medical doctor; the deep-cleaning and disinfecting of the space would be carried out by an external, professional service before we return to care in the space.