The Early Learning Center and the Out of School Center (OSC) are places for the children of Deerfield faculty and staff members to go during the day while their parents are at work.
The Early Learning Center is for kids from around 15-month-olds to kindergarten and is held off-campus, near Richardson’s Candy Kitchen. The OSC, meanwhile, is for those who are already in elementary school, and is stationed inside the Athletic Complex. The program was launched this year as several local elementary schools chose to have a hybrid schedule, which requires students to stay online for half of the week.
The new hybrid schedule posed a challenge for many of Deerfield’s faculty and staff members, who still have to work full-time and do not have the availability to stay home and look after their kids. For them, the daycare system has relieved much of the stress these changes created.
While children are at OSC for remote learning, teachers there help them to log into Zoom, finish their assignments, and stay organized. The situation is strange and unexpected for both the children and the teachers at OSC, but they are doing their best to adjust.
College advisor and Chair of the Philosophy and Religion Department Jamie Frank has a son at OSC. Ms. Frank said that OSC has made her life a lot easier. “I have friends in other industries who find it challenging because kids are not at school full-day…Teachers at OSC really provide a lot of support and fun for the kids,” she explained.
Unlike OSC, which is new this year, the Early Learning Center has been a long-standing institution at Deerfield. The center also had to adapt to many changes this year due to COVID-19. In years prior, the center was open to the local community, but now, it is only an option for children of Deerfield faculty and staff members. The center has also adopted new health protocols, including mask-wearing, daily screening, more hand-washing, and disinfecting.
Despite their young age, many children in the program have been very compliant to the new rules and changes. “Kids are doing a really good job keeping their masks on for most of the day, which is amazing,” said Lisa Buck, the Director of the Early Learning Center.
In the future, Ms. Buck’s hope is that the distance between the Early Learning Center and the Deerfield community can be shortened. She believes this will help the kids feel more involved in the community, which is more important than ever this year, as there are much fewer kids at the Early Learning Center.
“We would love to be on campus someday like the OSC…we feel a little isolated now,” said Ms. Buck.
The Early Learning Center and the OSC are truly a welfare for the Deerfield employees that helps them to grapple with the new norms during the pandemic.