Child care centers in Pennsylvania adapt to COVID-19 guidelines as they reopen

NARBERTH, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- As daycares re-open across Pennsylvania, the process might look a lot different for parents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that child care providers greet children outside and arrange for staggered drop-off and pickup times.

Wonderspring Early Education centers will require temperature checks for children, cots for nap time will be six feet apart and meals will be served individually instead of family-style.

"The biggest challenge is the spacing of the children, trying to keep children separate, trying to make sure they're comfortable and they feel safe," said Zakiyyah Boone, Interim CEO.

Cynthia Myers is gearing up to open Kids Korner in Narberth on July 6, but she said she's frustrated with the state's guidance on reopening.

"They basically just said, 'Do your best to follow the CDC guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control Guidelines,' and that was about it," said Myers.

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Myers said she and her staff will take temperature checks of staff and children, sanitize toys and wipe down high contact surfaces.

"It's just going to be very strange to stop people at the front door, take their temperature, do the health check questionnaire with them and then to have enough staff to take them to the class," said Myers.

State guidance says daycare staff will be required to wear masks, children are not required but its recommended. Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services says there will be no change in daycare activity or procedures as the state moves from yellow to green.

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Per Dept. of Human Services Spokesperson Erin James:

Since March, 18 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among staff or children at child care facilities. These 18 cases were located across 13 facilities in eight counties.

Of the 18 cases, 10 were among children in care or their family members. Eight of the cases are staff members at child care facilities. The eight counties and their case counts are: Allegheny (3), Berks (2), Butler (2), Erie (2), Lehigh (2), Philadelphia (4), Washington (1) and Westmoreland (2).

The YMCA of Greater Philadelphia has provided daycare services to essential workers. CEO Shaun Elliott said there have been mixed responses from parents now that daycares are reopening.

"We've noticed there are some parents that want to know a little bit more information, there are some that are just waiting to see and then there are some that are incredibly anxious to have childcare," said Elliott.

Elliott also added that COVID-19 has taken its toll on child care centers and it doesn't help that some parents are nervous to send their kids back.

"Honestly the biggest challenge in childcare is the economics," said Elliott. "If you don't open with a full classroom, it's very uneconomical."

Lisa Dugan, Director of Communications and Advancement for Wonderspring added:

"The State needs to provide more financial support for the child care sector, which really is the engine of the economy," said Dugan. "The sector was already running on razor-thin margins and the pandemic has taken a massive financial toll on centers. Many have had to close and others are taking big hits reopening because they are unable to serve as many children and there is significant expense related to measures centers are taking to keep children safe."
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