Daycare safety is at the top of every parents list, but during a pandemic all concerns skyrocket. Since daycares are starting ease back into normalcy, you’re likely wondering what plans should be in place to keep your child safe. If you’re not an essential worker, there’s a good chance your children have been home with you during the past couple of months.
Daycares are asking parents if they’re ready to send their children back. Some parents don’t have a choice and other do place thier children in child care by choice, but they all have the same questions. ‘What are you doing to keep my child safe?’
In this article, we’ll discuss the adjustments that daycares and parents should make during the pandemic.
When They Closed
Many daycares closed under orders from governors back in March. In the state of Ohio, where I live, Mike DeWine ordered daycares to obtain a special “pandemic license” or they couldn’t operate starting Thursday, March 26th, 2020.
The pandemic license for daycare centers includes stipulations such as:
— No more than six children in one room with one teacher
— Children whose parents are employed by the same entity should be kept together if possible
— Rigorous cleaning schedules in place
— Limited use of shared spaces and mixing of groups
The purpose of this pandemic license was to allow daycares to serve children whose parents were essential workers. Children of parents who were non essential workers were discouraged from attending. If childcare centers did not or could not obtain a pandemic license, they were to close.
Originally, pandemic license requirements were in place until April 30th, but they were extended through May. Now, with many businesses reopening, daycares are reopening as well. However, we’re still in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and daycares will face a special challenge in preventing the spread.
“The obvious concern in regard to daycare is putting a large number of children together…social distancing does not work too well. Children are known to share about everything.” — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
Since children naturally share everything and they thrive on being in close quarters, it will be difficult to get them to understand the need to social distance. In April, the CDC reported that children made up less than 2% of coronavirus cases. In those cases, children mostly experienced mild symptoms. Severe cases of coronavirus in children are rare, but possible. Even though children usually avoid severe cases, they still have the full ability to spread it to others, including adults.
What Child Care Centers Should Be Doing
Child care centers took a big hit during the COVID-19 closures. These are businesses that rely on attendance and without enrollment, they won’t survive. Administrators are looking out for their business, sometimes at the expense of others. It’s the responsibility of the parents to make sure that safety procedures are in place and enforced.
Now that childcare centers are reopening, they should have procedures in place to ensure the safety of children and employees. According to CNN Health, Abbey Alkon, a nurse practitioner in California recommended that parents shouldn’t enter child care facilities when picking up and dropping off. Child care centers shouldn’t use one pen for every parent to sign children in and out.
The CDC has an entire page dedicated to guidance for child care centers. They recommend hand sanitizing stations at the entrance, so children can wash as they come in. Since parents shouldn’t be entering the building, a staff member should be stationed at the door to greet children as they arrive.
“Older children may be able to follow guidelines such as following cones and arrows to ensure the classroom maintains a flow without too much contact.”
Social distancing young children is a challenge, and pretty much impossible for the youngest age groups. However, older children may be able to follow guidelines such as following cones and arrows to ensure the classroom maintains a flow without too much contact.
Employees should wear masks since they have to be in close contact with children. Older children (above the age of 2) should be encouraged to wear cloth masks as well. Staff should follow rigourous cleaning schedules. They should also supervise meal times to ensure children are not sharing utensils.
If possible, children centers should remove unnecessary toys and furniture until this passes over. Child care centers may also want to conduct daily temperature checks of each child. If a child’s temperature is over 100.4, they should not remain at the facility.
Ultimately, you as a parent knows what’s best for your family. If you have any doubts, remove your child from daycare facilities. While they benefit from contact with their peers, safety should take precedence during this uncertain times.
While children may be resilient, they can still feel and detect stress. Nobody has ever experienced anything like this before. Parents can help ease things by keeping communication open with both their children and child care centers. You should also familiarize yourself with the COVID-19 symptoms in children. Use this article from Harvard Health as a reference.
Daycare During Pandemic: What You Need To KnowIn time, we’ll all make it through this if we make the needed adjustments.