SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Pixie Preschool first opened its doors to youngsters in 1970. Since then, it has been welcoming two to six-year-olds for its varied programing. The preschool was forced to shut its doors during the height of the coronavirus pandemic on April 1, but wanted to remain available for the children of front line workers.

"Pixie has been handling the COVID crisis by trying to keep things as normal as possible for our children," explained Pixie Preschool Director January Gomolka. "We have always had specific cleaning, hand washing and sanitizing procedures so when it came time to amp up those areas it wasn’t too far from our normal routine. Once the governor ordered preschool’s in New Jersey on closed April 1, Pixie knew we had to provide a safe, healthy learning environment for the children of essential workers, so we immediately applied to remain open as an emergency child care center."

The preschool will continue welcoming students in September for in-person education unlike some area districts including the Spotswood School District which will be providing children with all virtual or a hybrid model of education come the start of the academic year next month. Pixie is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with extensive coronavirus precautions in place to help protect students and staff.

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"Pixie has been taking contactless temperatures upon arrival for both staff and children and using proper PPE including gloves," said Gomolka. "Everyone washes hands after entering and before going into classrooms. Only staff and students are allowed inside the building. Children are dropped off at the door. Our students are in groups of 10 children, who stay together as one group with the same teachers each day. There is no co-mingling of groups on shared spaces like the playground."

The preschool's playground is sanitized between uses during the school day and all of Pixie's staff is required to wear masks while at work.

"We have found that many of our long term families were comfortable enough to continue in-person preschool," Gomolka said when asked how parents felt about continuing to send their children to school in the height of the coronavirus crisis. "I think with the new standards in place and our high level of communication on what we are doing and how we are doing it, our parents are comfortable."

Pixie has even welcomed several new members to the Pixie family over the past few months. In the fall, the non-profit preschool will be providing its regular programming along with other options for working parents.

"This year in light of the pandemic, Pixie will be offering an enrichment class for five and six-year-olds for working families who require in-person care," added Gomolka. "In addition to every day, Arts and Crafts, Science, Math and Motor skill activities Pixie has offered for the last 50 years, we will be providing help with virtual instruction for children in kindergarten and first grade.  Parents will provide necessary technology, and we will assist them with assigned work."

The school will also be putting a new app to work in order to limit contact and to help drop off and pickups run more smoothly.

"In the beginning of this school year we began using a parent communication app called Brightwheel for attendance, tuition and communication," Gomolka added. "This app has proven instrumental in safe communication at this time. Pixie is able to send tuition statements and parents are able to make contactless payments through the app, In addition teachers document daily activities through pictures sent to families while the children are in school to provide piece of mind that their children are learning and having fun. Brightwheel also has a messaging feature which has been helpful with parents being able to message the school to let us know they are here dropping off or on their way to pick up, so we can have their children ready to go making for smoother drop off and pick up times with limited contact."

Pixie Preschool is located at 429 Main Street in Spotswood. For additional information, visit their website.