Waverly School Distirct has established an in-house daycare for its teachers. Superintendent Dustin Day says it provides the best situation for both the teachers and their children as the district deals with ongoing guideline changes from the Illinois State Board of Education and the continually changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic: “One of the concerns we had is whether we start remotely or whether we start in-person learning with the blended system like we are doing – was the challenge of what are staff members going to be able to do with their children, because we want them to focus on our students. It was going to be very challenging for anyone when your own child may be having a question about where they are going to be, if they are going to be learning remotely or in-person. You know the question of what’s going to happen with that child, does the staff member need to focus on them being a mom or dad and then having this responsibility as being a teacher. This program is going to work for my district. I’m not for sure it would work for every district, especially larger districts. We have some employees that we are going to utilize to be in this daycare all the time, and we are offering to K through 8 children.”
Day says the limit was placed at 20 students in the program, and after final numbers were taken, came out exactly at 20 students for the district. Day says it allows both teachers in the district to stay focused on the classroom and not have to worry about their children. Day says it also has another important function: “It was also two-fold in that some of the employees may have been asked to furlough or rift. We could keep them on staff, and they are still employed by doing this program. It also probably indirectly saves money for the district, because if a teacher is absent, they take sick time and the district has to provide a substitute – so the district is paying the teacher and the substitute. By this, we are actually paying it one time and everyone can continue their service and work, and not have to worry about anything. This daycare will run the same time as the school. Teachers bring their kids here. They have to provide lunches for their own kids, their own devices. I think it is a benefit to the district. It’s certainly a benefit to our teachers and our staff. Overall, I think it will be extremely beneficial to our students because teachers will have the opportunity to focus strictly on them during the day.”
Day says that he’s signed his own daughter up for the daycare program. He says that the program is coming at no extra cost to the district or the local taxpayer: “We wanted to make sure that those employees that had already been promised something, and I’ve budgeted that money for them, that they were employed and that they had a position. It’s not any new, extra money coming out of taxpayers. It’s a great point to make that I had to be fiscally responsible especially in this time frame to our taxpayers in the Waverly community. I wanted to make sure that this was not an additional expenses or expenditures coming out of our budget, and it certainly wasn’t.”
Day says that they haven’t explored keeping the idea long-term but he wanted to have an option available and ready for the district staff so that they could provide the best educational opportunity for all students in the district during the COVID-19 pandemic.