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While school is out, day cares are staying open.
Many child care facilities haven’t closed their doors, but are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
State officials say day cares are an essential service because they allow critical employees, including those in health care and food service, to go to work.
“Child care is a critical service. People working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response need access to safe, quality child care so they can know their own children are being well cared for as they care for others,” said N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen in a statement.
Workers looking for childcare may call a state hotline, 1-888-600-1685, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday to get information about local day care options for kids under 12.
Children of critical workers will be given priority, which includes hospital staff, emergency and first responders, front-line health care providers, staff of child care program, nursing and adult group homes, food service and others working in response to COVID-19 to keep our communities safe and healthy. Homeless children, those receiving child welfare services, or in unsafe or unstable living arrangements will also be given priority.
This week, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered public schools to remain closed through at least May 15. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for day cares to keep families, children and staff safe.
On Monday, NCDHHS updated its guidelines to child care programs, requiring health screenings of anyone entering the facility and limiting the number of teachers kids come into contact with. The new guideline must be met for child care providers to stay open.
Day care owners around Butner and Creedmoor said they are watching the evolving situation and remain committed to following all the guidelines.
First Baptist Church Academy closed last week for a deep cleaning as a precaution. It reopened Monday and plans to operate as long as conditions and regulations allow.
“FBC Academy is committed to providing a safe, nurturing environment for our children and (praying) for our community during this time of uncertainty,” said director Amy Holder.
Butner Presbyterian Preschool closed March 16 and had planned to reopen Monday. The school said it was uncertain if it could reopen now that the state has ordered schools closed until May 15. The board will meet and discuss its options.
Director Susan Zink said she has been staying connected to students and parents through email, videos, text and Facebook. She uploaded sheets for the kids to work on during the two week break. In addition she has been reading to the kids on Facebook and sharing ideas there to keep the children active and learning creatively.
Parents in turn have been sending her videos of the children showing their work.
“It is really hard,” Zink said. “We really miss the kids and I know they miss us and their friends.”
The church is trying to stay connected as well by uploading videos. The Love Unlocked box and Little Library out front are remaining stocked.
“This is an unprecedented situation, and we are working to stay in communication with our preschool families and keep the kids learning and engaged. (We are) praying for all of our families and our community,” said Zink.
Bright Beginnings Preschool is open as normal, but it said it is taking extra precautions to keep staff and families safe. It has been sanitizing the facility. The carpets were professionally sanitized Saturday.
Unnecessary items were taken out of classrooms.
The school began taking the temperature of everyone coming into the building on Monday. Everyone will use hand sanitizer when entering.
If parents or children show any symptoms, the child will not be allowed to attend until symptoms have subsided, the school said. Staff will follow the same procedure and will be sent home if showing any symptoms.
Parents will drop off and pick up their kids at their classroom door. At drop off and throughout the day teachers will assist students with hand washing.
This week, 1st Place Academy said it is operating at a normal schedule.
The academy is limiting visitors. Only one parent can drop off or pick up a child.
The school will check the health and take the temperature of students entering, it said. Parents and children will have to wash their hands at the school entrance.
Parents are kept updated by letters and information being sent home.
Christian Faith Child Development Center remains open and is able to accommodate families with children under 5 during the COVID-19 crisis. The facility has been thoroughly sanitized and all staff and children are consistently monitored for any symptoms of illness.
”Our main priority is to provide a safe, loving and secure environment as an option for families and essential workers during this time so they do not have to worry about childcare while they are on the frontline helping our community,” said Chris Jones.
For more information, contact Chris Jones at 919-529-1581, ext. 115.
Among the local day cares that said they are staying open and running on a normal schedule were Whittmore Learning Academy, Presley Brooke Academy and White Rabbit Daycare.
These day cares said they are following CDC guidelines and the recommendations set forth by state health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.