UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of Penn State’s Back to State efforts, the University is planning to reopen the Child Care Center at Hort Woods and the Bennett Family Center at University Park on Aug. 19. On July 27, Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost, and Lorraine Goffe, vice president for Human Resources, hosted town hall meetings with parents and employees to discuss the reopening plans and recent leadership changes at the centers.
The University is developing plans in line with state, local and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for safely reopening the two centers and will continue to provide additional details about these plans with parents and employees in the coming days and weeks.
“Given the unprecedented situation brought about by COVID-19, the University’s top priority for reopening is the health and well-being of the centers’ students, teachers and staff,” Goffe said. “We know that child care is a critical issue for working parents, and we also know the importance of high-quality child care for our employees. Our goal is to continue to offer consistent, reliable child care services that strive to support the health, safety and well-being of the children enrolled in our programs.”
Among the COVID-19 health and safety plans, which are currently being finalized by Penn State and center leadership in line with the University’s overall return-to-campus plans, are considerations for reduced class sizes and other social distancing measures, drop-off/pick-up processes, visitor policies, mask guidelines, daily temperature checks, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
Following recent departures of key leaders at the centers, the University has put in place a strong interim leadership structure for the fall to support a safe reopening, according to Goffe.
Linda Duerr, a former director of Hort Woods and a recently retired early childhood education instructor from the College of Education, will be interim co-director of Early Child Care Programs. Duerr has more than 35 years of early education experience, with most of those years teaching and administering programs on the University Park campus. She recently has served as coordinator of Educational Programs for Children and Youth at the Arboretum at Penn State, where she focused on connecting children of all ages to the wonders of nature. While Duerr will lead academic and educational matters, Patricia Franklin, associate vice president for HR Operations, will be interim co-director of programs to oversee operations and compliance.
Within the centers, current assistant director Jill Putnam will fill the interim center director role at Hort Woods and current supervising teacher Danielle Mangene will fill the interim center director role at the Bennett Center. Mangene also brings her previous experience as a center director at a community day care center to her interim role. In addition, Heather Kimble, previous director at the Bennett Center, will continue to consult during this transitional period. A new faculty advisory board also has been established with faculty from the College of Education to lend their expertise to the interim program and center directors during this transition and beyond.
In addition, Daybridge, which is managed by Bright Horizons, on the University Park campus plans to reopen on Aug. 17 with COVID-19 safety measures in place.
For the latest updates and information on Penn State’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including frequently asked questions and information specific for students, faculty and staff, visit virusinfo.psu.edu.