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ECEC to Remain Closed for Fall Semester

Re: ECEC to Remain Closed for Fall Semester
To: All campus
July 24, 2020
 
Dear Campus Community,
 
The Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) has been closed since March when UC Merced reduced on-campus operations in response to the coronavirus health crisis. As the pandemic in the Central Valley and beyond continues to worsen, we have made the difficult decision to keep the ECEC closed throughout the fall semester.
 
We understand that many of our campus community members rely heavily on the ECEC as a safe and convenient place for their children. However, the health precautions demanded by the pandemic are at cross-purposes with the center’s mission of providing an age-appropriate learning environment.
The recent spike in COVID-19 cases locally and nationwide led UC Merced leadership to revise its plans for fall reopening and restrict additional students, staff and faculty on campus in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.
 
In early July, California put Merced County on a watch list due to significant increases in coronavirus activity, including test positivity rate and people hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. Private business ranging from restaurants to museums were ordered to end indoor operations. As Merced County and California continued to struggle with the pandemic, Gov. Newsom on July 17 announced that all schools in counties on the watch list will remain closed to in-person instruction and open the school year with distance learning.
 
In short, conditions are not right to operate the ECEC in a manner that fits the center’s mission of providing a safe, nurturing place where babies, toddlers and preschoolers can learn and thrive. Physical distancing, face coverings and the myriad additional safeguards that would need to be put in place will not help us meet this mission. Most important, the health of the children and their families, along with that of ECEC staff, must be considered as the spike in coronavirus cases continues. Hosting so many young children in a small, indoor environment could increase the chance of spreading COVID-19 and pose risks to the larger campus community as we ramp up fall operations.
 
We will continue to closely monitor information about the COVID-19 crisis and how it affects our campus community. In the meantime, if you are a university family that needs help with child care, we suggest these resources:
 
  • ACCESS Child Care Resource and Referral at the Merced County Office of Education provides resources and referrals to licensed child care and can provide tips on what to look for when selecting high quality child care. Call them at (209) 381-6793, ext. 6111.
  • First 5 California provides parent resources and developmentally appropriate activities for parents with children ages 5 and under.
  • Sitter City (if appropriate)
  • ECEC Executive Director Danielle Waite is providing ideas for developmentally appropriate activities for children. The activities use common household materials. Her ideas can be found here , and new ones appear regularly in the Monday Memo newsletter.
 
Please be safe and well.
 
Michael Riley, CPA
Interim Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer