When Joesey Ragasa, the morning director at PNG Childcare and Learning Center in Tamuning learned last Thursday from the governor's office that they could reopen Monday, she started to prepare to welcome back children.

"It was sudden, not like the last time when we had some time to prepare," she said Tuesday. "Our staff was able to come in over the weekend, they worked for 10 hours, trying to make sure we were able to open."

This is the second reopening for PNG and other child care centers across the island. They were allowed to reopen in June, but had to close again in August when Guam returned to Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1.

"Since this is going to be our second reopening, we are focusing on our safety protocols more," said Ragasa.

She said parents are not allowed past the front gate, all passengers in the car with the child are screened, and any child with a cough or runny nose is gently turned away.

"We look for signs if they have any flu-like symptoms," she said. "They have to be fully recovered without medication before they can return."

Before the pandemic PNG had a capacity for 77 children during the day time and 44 in the evening, but it is now operating at 50% capacity.

"The executive order did not stipulate a capacity but at the same time we have to adhere to the social distancing, so we have to set the capacity," Ragasa said.

She said returning children are not required to be tested for COVID-19, but new students are.

"Since the reopening in June our staff has been screened three times," said Ragasa, noting that she has been tested five times.

Ragasa said PNG is one of the centers that has applied for a $100,000 grant available to Guam child care centers under the CARES Act.

She said the money could go a long way to making sure the children stay healthy.

"We could spend so much on more safety measures," she said. "We could get Plexiglas and we could get the UV guns to spray the children's belongings before we bring them into the building."

New normal, new rules

The reopening went "pretty smoothly" on Monday though keeping the children a safe distance apart is difficult," she said.

"It is, especially when they want to share toys," Ragasa said, adding that the new normal also means new rules for the children to learn.

"In the beginning, before the pandemic, we teach them to share. Now we are retracting that."


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