Published in the Lincoln County News on May 21, 2020

With professional guidance, a well thought out plan, and optimism for the health and safety of its community, Coastal Kids Preschool plans to reopen for its summer session on June 29, 2020.  Decision-making about the reopening of school prioritizes the health and safety of students, staff, and the local community. To this end, the school is closely monitoring guidance from the Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Maine Department of Education, NAEYC, state childcare licensing, and LincolnHealth. Scrupulous plans for increased sanitization, robust health and wellness checks, enhanced check-in protocols, and new outdoor classroom spaces are well underway in anticipation of the June opening.

The year 2020 marks Coastal Kids Preschool’s twenty-fifth anniversary of providing an inclusive, developmentally appropriate education for preschool children of all incomes and abilities. This is a proud moment in the school’s history, and well over one thousand children have attended since 1995. Initially founded as a collaborative effort to serve preschool children in Lincoln County, the school became an independent nonprofit program after three years due to local funding issues. The school’s founder and Education Director, Priscilla Congdon, has been the cohesive force behind the school’s program, staffing, and its focus on serving children with special needs within a nurturing, inclusive setting. Committed and determined parents, together with a wide range of generous patrons, were critical to its survival in the early days – and they remain so today. The school’s growth and long-term success are a testament to its mission and to the support it receives from the local community.

Before Covid-19 forced postponement of the school’s 25th anniversary celebrations, 2020 was shaping up to be an especially successful year for Coastal Kids. Over the past two years, the NAEYC-accredited program expanded to provide childcare for toddlers. Its seven classes are full with waiting lists. A newly revamped website is in the offing. And, just a year ago, Coastal Kids welcomed Lisa Conway as the new Executive Director. Ms. Lisa, Ms. Priscilla, and Coastal Kids’ competent staff are leading the school’s response to this unprecedented pandemic and its plans for reopening.

Although the school year ended early, many traditional events that were temporarily left in limbo will still happen. The school is planning 25th anniversary celebrations that will include an artists’ opening reception to celebrate its mural project and a ceremony to name the school building after Ms. Priscilla, plus an event at Darrows Barn that will be held next summer. Preschool graduation is a priority for later in the summer once restrictions on larger gatherings are eased; its format will depend on available health and safety guidance at that time. We are excited to help our graduating students and their families celebrate this important milestone before heading off to kindergarten in the fall!

Coastal Kids believes it is important that all preschool children continue to be afforded opportunities to reach their full potential at this critical juncture in brain development. Coastal Kids has provided, and will continue to provide, a nurturing, engaging, inclusive, and developmentally appropriate education to preschool children of all incomes and abilities.  Coastal Kids recognizes that safe childcare and accredited preschool options are critical for parents returning to work, and will continue to be proactive and creative in responding to the changing needs of our community.