The Lowry Center for Early Childhood Education, located in Pawley Hall, is set to reopen on Sept. 8 with reduced class sizes and safety precautions in place, including daily health screenings, temperature checks and face coverings (recommended for children two and up). Access to the center will be limited to essential staff and children only.
The center offers early childhood education programming to children 18 months to five years of age, utilizing innovative equipment, materials and practices in an effort to cultivate development. Lowry strives to provide an ideal early childhood education laboratory center for OU and its neighboring communities.
The Lowry center was unable to reopen this summer and has since cut down classroom size from twenty students to nine this fall. They shut down in-person instruction in March when COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Michigan.
The center also employs students pursuing an undergraduate degree in early childhood education through Oakland University for their practicum placement (field experience), where they are able to gain classroom leadership experience.
“We are getting as prepared as we can to keep everyone safe,” said Lowry Center Director Ramona Borowicz. “[Our] first goal is to provide child care for families who need it, [and] for children to thrive even through a pandemic.”
Borowicz mentioned the classroom will be taken outdoors a lot, as Lowry teachers are coming up with creative ways to keep kids separated and do group activities involving music and movement.
“[We are looking for ways to] support the development of every child and do our normal routine,” Borowicz said. “Lowry teachers are very creative. We have a good team, it’s exciting to see.”
When it comes to safety precautions amid COVID-19, the Lowry Center is continuing to follow guidelines and protocol from OU, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). A Lowry reopening committee was formed with people invested in the program, as mentioned by Borowicz.
In addition to the daily screening questions, temperature checks, increased sanitation, outdoor activities and masks, Lowry students will remain in one classroom to prevent student/staff crossover.
According to Theresa Lee, a teacher at Lowry, children have been participating in virtual activities amid the pandemic such as sharing their favorite toys.
Additionally, Lowry students and parents have had the opportunity for virtual, individualized meetings to hear about drop off and pick up procedures and meet teachers both with a mask on and off.
As far as reduced class sizes, Lee believes this will allow for deeper connections between Lowry students and staff. Although, staff may miss building parent connections and relationships, as parents will not be allowed in the building.
“[We want to] keep kids safe and make [the experience] as meaningful and positive as it usually is during the year,” Lee said. “This is just another little challenge we can all face together [that will] make us stronger.”
In light of reduced classroom capacity and increased safety guidelines there are currently no open spots at the Lowry Center. However, those looking for more information can call the center at 248-370-4100 or take a look at their website.