NewsGetting Back to School


Following COVID-19 protocols ‘is key’ to keeping preschool open in Ahwatukee

Posted at 10:17 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 20:12:58-05

AHWATUKEE, AZ — Children of Hope Preschool in Ahwatukee has managed to stay open during this entire school year.

“We were all really concerned, we didn’t know what the school year would like,” said Lynn Hockenberger, the preschool’s director for the past 14 years.

Hockenberger, known as Mrs. H, said it all begins with her professional hand washers.

“I call them professional hand washers because they wash their hands for the full 20 seconds, we’d got some math on there while we are counting with the children,” she added.

Incorporating music, rhythm, and math is part of the success in getting the kids to make hand washing a part of their daily routine.

“Kids are resilient, when you teach them something, they learn it and do it, they are amazing,” said Mrs. H.

Mrs. H said mask wearing is followed meticulously by all the children and teachers, with an occasional child who at times, can try to take it off.

“We didn’t know how things would be with a preschooler wearing a mask, but kids are awesome,” she added.

Another success is her observation and tracking of community spread available through the Maricopa County school benchmarks.

The school delayed opening due to the high numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community. Then, in December, when community spread was at an all time high, the school took action.

"And we made the December break a little bit sooner than we had anticipated,” added Mrs. H.

All off these decisions made with the eye on the prize, keeping the little learners in the classroom. The priority was always to keep kids in the classroom, due to the age group, 2 to 5 year olds.

"What happens in those first years literally builds the brain and you are brain architect,” she added.

While there have been COVID cases with the preschoolers at Children of Hope, Mrs. H said they have all been cases where a parent or family member passed on the virus to a child.

There have been no cases of spread of COVID-19 among the children at Children of Hope.

A big part of keeping her school open has been the robust and added disinfection provided by Open Works, a local company that provides cleaning and disinfecting services to the school.

“We put a focal point on touch points. So we added in disinfection to more of like cleaning for disinfection versus cleaning for visual aspect,” said Mary Torrado, a regional manager for Open Works.

Torrado said the focus are things like door knobs, countertops, sinks, drawers, computer keyboards and arm rests on chairs. Those are areas touched by many people throughout the day

“Because while we are separating individuals from person to person contact, there’s always person to point contact and someone else touches that same point and could have contaminated the area,” added Torrado.

Open Works has added Electrostatic Spraying to the protocol at Children of Hope. The spray provides a blanket disinfectant that doesn’t just fall to the ground after spraying, but instead it blankets and wraps around surfaces, providing one more step of disinfection.

“It’s another safety measure that we are putting in place eliminating human error in that key component”