The Highland County Community Action Organization’s Head Start program has returned to in-person classes after previously closing in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School started back on Monday, Sept. 14, and Program Director, Valerie Williams reported a smooth start to the 2020-21 school year.

“We are taking many health and safety precautions this year to assure our children and staff all remain well,” Williams said. “We are following the state licensing recommendations of only having nine children in each classroom.”

Because they are following these low class sizes, they have Group A children coming for a full day on Monday and Tuesday and Group B children coming for a full day on Thursday and Friday.

Additionally, the same group of children stay together the entire day. For example, the same nine children in the classroom are the same nine children on one bus. This limits mingling of children and is an extra health precaution. Temperature checks and health assessments are completed daily for children and staff before being permitted in the center or on the bus.

The Community Action Early Childhood Program is providing each child two days’ worth of food to take home each week. Mrs. Williams said each child takes home breakfast, lunch and a snack on the child’s last day present at the center for each week.

The Early Head Start program, which provides home visiting and center-based services to children birth-age 3 and pregnant women, has been providing outdoor home visits since August. If a family does not feel comfortable doing a face-to-face visit, the program is also offering virtual home visits during COVID-19.

The Early Head Start program has been providing each family with diapers or pull-ups and wipes each month if needed for the enrolled child. The Early Head Start program is also following precautions to ensure the health and safety of children, families and staff.

The HCCAO Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide free comprehensive services to children birth to 5 years old and pregnant women. They enroll children throughout the year. They have locations in Hillsboro and Greenfield.

During this school year, the Greenfield Head Start program plans to be in the newly renovated Highland County Community Action building located at 1300 Jefferson Street. Services are currently being offered in the Greenfield Armory building until the transition can happen. All of HCCAO services will be able to be offered under one roof once the project is complete.

For more information about Head Start/Early Head Start or other Highland County Community Action programs, please call (937) 393-3458, visit their website at hccao.org or check them out on Facebook.