Horizon Education Centers: Keeping Families Safe During the Pandemic

Horizon Education Centers: Keeping Families Safe During the Pandemic

By Lara Nour EddineJul 1 /2020

At Kuno Creative, our mission is to help companies we believe in get results. This is the eighth in a series featuring our clients, their mission and how they’re pivoting their marketing strategy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Horizon Education Centers was founded in 1978 by Mary Smith. A mother herself, Mary wanted a safe place for children to be while their parents were at work, including her own son, David.

Today, David Smith is now the executive director of the nonprofit organization, which includes 12 locations across Cuyahoga and Lorain counties. Horizon has evolved over the years to include before- and after-school care to children starting at age 18 months up to 12 years old. The organization provides various programs throughout the year, including summer camp, kindergarten boot camp and preschool.

Horizon faced challenges as the coronavirus forced shutdowns across the state, the country and the world. The nonprofit was forced to close, leaving employees without work and families without childcare.

During their time of closure, Horizon worked tirelessly to prepare for the day it could once again open its doors to families and reunite with the students they missed.

Here is a look at how they have taken, and continue to take, a responsible approach in regards to their staff and the families which attend their centers.

Closing the Centers

Horizon received word in mid-March that it would close at the direction of Ohio’s Gov. Mike DeWine in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic. With this notice, the Horizon team, led by Smith, began devising a plan of action. They would close just ahead of the governor’s official announcement that childcare centers, along with many other businesses across various industries, would need to close by late March.

They gave their families notice that they were closing and began providing resources across their communication platforms, including their website, social media channels and their customer relationship management platform that communicates directly with families enrolled in Horizon services. This included where to seek a pandemic childcare center for essential workers.

Horizon sent out communication regarding what to expect as the centers closed and educational resources for children who would now be at home.

Planning to Reopen

As March turned to April, the Horizon administrative team closely followed the governor’s daily guidance on the pandemic situation, watching and waiting for the announcement that things would be turning around.

While the plans to begin summer camp enrollment were paused, they turned to other efforts — cleaning, sanitizing, and coming up with the plan for reopening.

David Smith was diligent in his efforts to keep his families informed. He wrote updates twice a week and recorded various video messages about the status of the situation as it unfolded. These messages were distributed by Horizon and Kuno team members across their various communications channels to ensure the entire Horizon family of parents, faculty and staff were informed.

As talk began about beginning to reopen various industries around the state, Horizon put together a parent survey to find out how families felt about childcare centers reopening. They left a section for parents to ask questions that Horizon could address in response to the surveys.

This proactive idea brought up many valid questions from parents, and the Horizon team put together these questions and their answers in a Q&A format to send to families. The Q&A addressed many issues such as classroom sizes and how Horizon would adjust, what changes families could expect to see in the drop-off and pick-up procedures, the centers’ approach to social distancing and mask wearing, and more.

Bringing Families Back Safely

The Horizon blog and website have remained constant sources of the most updated information, maintained collaboratively between the Horizon and Kuno teams. Horizon has provided various photos to illustrate what the sanitization process looks like during the closure, as well as images of the new procedures in place as each center reopens.

The blog has addressed issues such as how to talk to your child about coronavirus, ways to keep your children busy at home during the quarantine, and ways to help your child cope with the new normal, which includes not being able to have parents present in some cases during dentist visits or haircuts. The blog continues to provide articles in real time as issues continue to affect children during the pandemic.

The Horizon team created an instructional video that addresses these changes and provides examples of the differences families can expect when they return. The video shows children what staff will look like before they see them in person, to help younger children not be afraid of the PPE staff must now wear. They are aware the coronavirus is still present in our world, and they are taking every precaution to meet state and CDC guidelines.

As they begin a phased approach to reopening their centers, they continue to provide information regularly to families and communicate any changes that occur. They have reduced center hours to allow for increased cleaning and sanitization time. They have given priority to families needing full-time care to assist families going back to work.

Horizon has taken an active approach of returning to work during the crisis and have worked hard to take precautions to keep their employees and families safe throughout.

Kuno Creative is proud to collaborate with this educational institution and will continue to provide assistance to Horizon as they navigate through the best ways to provide their services to those families needing it, all the while keeping their staff and center families safe.

Working with Kuno

The Author

Lara Nour Eddine

With years of experience as a brand journalist, Lara shifted roles within Kuno to manage client relationships as an account manager. She puts her storytelling skills to use from her journalism days to help develop a big-picture strategy for clients and to execute tactics that best achieve results. Lara has worked in journalism and public relations. She also serves as an adjunct professor.
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