The Fort Frances Nursery School is accepting registration for the new school year after the Ministry of Education gave them the green light to do so last week. The decision comes after they had to close in March because of COVID-19.
Laurel Basaraba, supervisor and a resource teacher, said they went back to original license capacity after it was cut to half due to COVID-19.
Children who go to the nursery school are usually two to five years old. The nursery follows the school calendar so they did not operate during the summer.
Basaraba said the nursery will follow all safety precautions during the registration process and when the nursery reopens.
“We are gearing up,” Basaraba said. “Now we will open next week. There are, of course, health and safety protocols and enhanced screenings. We'll be wearing masks and [face] shields. I have a lot of parents phone in to say 'we are ready.'"
The nursery school will be open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On each day, there is a morning class and an afternoon class, adding up to eight classes per week. Basaraba said most children attend multiple times a week.
“They can choose Monday mornings, Tuesday afternoon, whatever they want,” Basaraba said. “They have eight sessions to choose from. Most come three to four times a week.”
The nursery opens at 8:45 a.m. and closes at 11:15 a.m. It opens again at 2:45 p.m. and they close for the day at 3:15 p.m. Basaraba said they have extended hours if somebody needs it for a fee.
The nursery school operates at Knox United Church, with the capacity of 16 children per class. There are three staff members including Basaraba.
“We have a couple of rooms upstairs and then we have full use of the gymnasium,” Basaraba said. “We are the same umbrella as a daycare centre in terms of the protocols that we have to follow. The Ministry of Education is who licenses us. They definitely have protocols they want us to follow.”
Basaraba said this program has been running for 50 years and its mission is focusing on children's early learning and developing their skills.
“We focus on social and emotional skills, sharing, public speaking and taking turns. We focus on alphabets and numbers and colours and counting and sorting and categorizing. Writing their names, cutting, just the traditional early learning skills,” Basaraba said.
“It will improve the children's social skills. We will work on their cognitive skills and emotional skills. We work on self-regulating.”
Basaraba said registration happens either by calling the nursery or going and picking up the registration form.
“They phone, they come, they pick up the forms, they do not come in the facility and then they bring them back after they are completed, which is kind of sad because you can't have visitors in the facility,” Basaraba said.