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Foundation Supports Preschool Reopenings

A student at First Covenant Church Preschool plays in her individual student space. Submitted photo

As local school districts spent the spring and summer months putting together hybrid learning models and reopening plans, local preschools have also made adjustments to their educational plans to keep the youngest learners safe and healthy.

After First Covenant Church Preschool in Jamestown canceled classes in mid-March, staff created and uploaded educational videos to social media to stay connected with families.

“We heard from many of our preschool families how much their children missed this environment and their concerns about a gap in their early education,” said Cathy Byrne, preschool director.

Using that same creativity, Byrne and her staff worked together to make significant changes to their program to be able to open for the 2020-21 academic year.

“In spite of COVID, the need for high quality, early education is as important as ever,” Byrne said. “We are taking a cautious, creative, risk-based approach to the 2020-2021 school year, supporting the learning and well-being of the children we serve while ensuring the health and safety of the children and staff.”

One of their biggest challenges was finding a way to maintain social distancing and safety protocols for their three and four-year-old students.

A grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation’s Lynn Foundation Fund provided funding to purchase individual yoga mats, storage bins, lap desks and face coverings for every student.

Across town at Zion Covenant Church’s preschool program, maintaining social distancing and deep-cleaned facilities was also a concern for staff.

According to Carm Proctor, who wrote a grant request to the foundation, it was imperative that staff be able to keep the facility as clean and safe as possible for the children, and help maintain Zion’s reputation as a preschool program that offers quality, enriching instruction.

The Lynn Foundation Fund also provided funding to purchase small picnic tables for students to eat lunch and learn, additional cubbie storage for personal belongings, and walkie talkies for staff.

“The Community Foundation remains committed to supporting the needs of each and every resident in our community,” said Tory Irgang, Community Foundation executive director. “These grant dollars help ensure that even our smallest residents are able to receive quality early education in a safe way, while also protecting our teachers and administrators.”

Through its Lynn Foundation Fund and Karl Peterson Field of Interest Fund, the Community Foundation is able to grant dollars directly to religious organizations. Just this year alone, more than $50,000 has been awarded from these funds to support technology needs, reopening plans, and safety and security upgrades.

For more information, about these grants processes contact the foundation at 661-3390 or visit crcfonline.org.

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