Wooster – For 76 years, the College of Wooster nursery school has welcomed young children to its facility on Pine Street in Wooster.
This school year it will not be open.
It was previously scheduled to open for the 2023-24 academic year on September 5, and will remain closed, based on what a letter from the dean’s office described as “operational and construction challenges that we have not been able to resolve.”
One parent, Gina Pagell, from Worcester, shared in an email with The Daily Record her disappointment about the nursery school closing.
“Our daughter came there last year, and we absolutely loved everything about the programme,” Pagell said, describing the staff as “amazing” and thanking them for the mentoring and environment that helped her daughter “develop her confidence, kindness and independence.” “.
The college’s announcement led to a “pause” of the Pre-School – founded in 1947 by Jane Bates, wife of the then minister of Westminster Presbyterian Church, with the help of the Young Women’s Club.
A message from the nursery on Facebook was included in the “shock and sadness at the news.” The college statement acknowledged that it is “a beloved program that means a great deal to many Wooster families.” Melissa Anderson, vice president of Marketing, Communications and Strategic Initiatives, said, “At this time, we are not sharing details about (the facility issues being addressed).”
Infrastructure and structural concerns
“What we do know is that we have some issues,” she said, stressing that they are related to infrastructure and structural concerns.
“When we realized the scale of the problem, we tried to find a partner,” she said, specifically for insurance coverage to move to a different building off campus, but that effort was not yet successful.
“The decision was very recent,” Anderson said, “and over the course of the academic year the college will try to resolve the issue.” “It’s a sad situation. We are looking at what we can do this year,” but not with the goal of reopening schools during the 2023-2024 school year.
She said parents were notified of the decision to close the facility on August 21 or 22.
Regarding students who might experience displacement, Anderson said, “We don’t actually have real enrollment numbers yet for the fall semester. Historically, we’ve totaled 40 students or less” between morning and afternoon sessions.
Solutions required for employees and facilities
Anderson said the nursery staff consists of one principal and five part-time teachers, noting that “we are working with the staff directly on the plan for this year.”
The college statement said information regarding the current Westminster Presbyterian Church site remains incomplete, noting that no “fast track to open this fall, while maintaining compliance” has been found.
According to the college’s statement, “The hope is that a solution will be found during this year.” The statement also said that the college is “working toward a solution for our dedicated staff who have cared for our young students for decades and guided them on paths of creativity.”
Other options for families
Families have other options in the area between public and private preschools to enroll their students. Just one example is the Worcester City Schools Early Learning Center on Grant Street attached to Cornerstone Elementary School.
“We are sorry to hear that Worcester Pre-School has had to close,” Worcester Superintendent Gabe Tudor said in an email.
He said the 4-year-old classes at the English Language Center had space available, but there was a waiting list for the 3-year-old classes. Families interested in enrolling or joining a waitlist can find information under final forms on the Wooster City Schools website.
Through the Child Find program, the Tri-County Education Service Center is mandated to conduct a process to “identify, assess and identify children with suspected disabilities who may need special education as well as related services,” said Sandy Stapel, superintendent of preschools in Triy County. services.”
Tri-County classrooms also have places available for normally developing children, and there are vacancies at this time in Wooster ELC classrooms.
“Fortunately, other schools in the area were very helpful, and we were able to secure a place on another programme,” Bagel said.
However, she said, the College of Wooster nursery school “holds a special place in our hearts, and we sincerely hope that the College will do all it can to secure its future in the community of Wooster.”