Credit: Talia Toutounjian | Mustang News

After the COVID-19 spike in January, Orfalea Family and ASI Children’s Center reinstated COVID-19 policies and precautions. 

The Orfalea Family and ASI Children’s Center serves as a childcare service and early educational center for children of Cal Poly students, faculty, alumni and local San Luis Obispo community members. 

There are currently 132 children and 15 staff members. The Children’s Center must put in place COVID-19 protocols that address the needs of the children, student staff and teachers. 

The priority is “making sure we are just keeping everyone as safe and healthy as possible, so we can stay operational,” ASI Children’s Program Interim Director Ashley Shoals said. 

Those who send their children to these childcare centers are typically full time students or employees that need childcare and support. 

Before registering at the center, parents/guardians are made aware of the potential for classroom closures and that COVID-19 policies are constantly changing, ASI spokesperson Dora Mountain said in an email to Mustang News.

“It has definitely been a transition for them [children and their families]. A lot of our kids have not been in care before, so this is what they know,” Shoals said. “They know coming to school and having their temperature checked, they know mask wearing, they know how to come in and navigate with their peers.” 

The Children’s Center is split up into six childcare rooms for children ranging from infants to kindergarten. According to the center’s COVID-19 protocols, each room has a maximum of 16 people including children and adults. 

When a child in a specific room tests positive for COVID-19, the entire classroom is considered “potentially exposed.” Since the children at the Childcare Center are under five and not approved for vaccination, they must follow a 10-day quarantine if someone in their room tests positive, explains Shoals. 

Currently, there are no virtual learning options or isolation rooms.

“However, we are required to provide distance learning to some of our children who receive subsidized child care,” Mountain said. 

Employees are required by the state to isolate themselves for at least five days and only return to work after symptoms are gone and they receive a negative test result.

According to the County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency, if a child shows signs of having COVID-19 while at the childcare center, they should be isolated, while still provided care. Once a child tests positive, the child should be excluded from childcare and all close contacts should be identified and notified. 

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