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Local day cares adapting to COVID-19 restrictions

Union file photo

For Heaven’s Sake day care in Washington has remained open through the COVID-19 pandemic but has taken extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of staff and children.
Union file photo For Heaven’s Sake day care in Washington has remained open through the COVID-19 pandemic but has taken extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of staff and children.

Due to COVID-19, only essential workers are the only ones in the office. Many local day cares are still open to take care of their children, but have had to adopt new rules of their own to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.

At the UP With Kids Day Care in the United Presbyterian Home in Washington, Director Jill Klinzman said the center has adjusted to only continuing to take children of staff members. About 20 children whose parents are not staff were affected by this.

“We closed our doors to nonstaff (children) as of (last) Monday. That was our first step in the direction we were trying to go,” she said.

To limit the spread of germs, parents are not allowed to come into the center and must call ahead to let staff know their child has arrived. Upon entry, the child must wash their hands and have their temperature taken. The same goes for staff members, too, she said.

Elizabeth Watson, director of For Heaven’s Sake Day care in Washington said her center is still accepting the same children as before the pandemic. However, the building has been closed off to the general public and parents are only allowed to come into the entry way to help limit the spread.

Business has taken a hit by being open due to some parents not being able to afford care, she said. Although some parents are deemed essential workers, in some cases their pay has been cut.

“We are running as if it were normal, but we are taking a financial hit by doing that,” she said. “We’re just doing our best because we are an essential service and we want to stay open as long as we can.”

At the New London Child Care Center, Director Michelle Wilka said things are not going as smoothly. Usually, the center takes children before and after school, but because the district has closed the schools, those students are not present.

The numbers have gone from about 105 students to about 30 and are expected to drop more, she said. Staff has been cut greatly as well, from 46 to 10.

Hours have been cut by one in the morning and one at night in New London, but Watson said hours at her center have not been affected. However, Klinzman reported the UP With Kids Day Care has shortened the day by one hour to allow staff extra time to sanitize and deep clean everything. However, these changes are not at all that much different from their daily routine except keeping closer watch for symptoms, she said.

“We’re definitely more vigilant about paying attention to those things and making sure they get their hands washed,” she said.

Wilka reported the same in New London, saying the staff has taken to cleaning three times a day. The sick policies have been updated as well, she said.

Before the pandemic, the policy in New London was that students who had a fever must wait 24 hours before returning. Now, they must wait three days she said.

One struggle Watson reported having is a lack of supplies. The day care has an automatic renewal subscription through Amazon for wipes and other cleaning supplies.

Last week she received an email saying supplies were not in stock and Amazon could not guarantee when they would be back in stock, she said. Instead, she went to the store to purchase and was surprised to see the shelves were nearly empty.

“It proved to be a little bit more of a challenge than I expected,” she said.

However, with the help of local donations, the center was able to find the supplies it needed and get back on the right track.