Despite no reopen date, daycares forming plans for the future

Posted at 5:12 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 20:26:02-04

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday afternoon that there is still no plan for reopening daycares and childcare facilities across Ohio, nor does he feel comfortable announcing a date when they can.

In the meantime, however, many daycares are already hard at work on plans and precautions for their facilities in preparation for their future reopening, whenever that may be.

"Stress levels have been at an all-time high," said Cheryl Spencer, owner of Totally Kids Learning Center, a five-star childcare center in Westwood.

When her facility opens its doors once more, things will look and operate a little differently. Parents will not be able to enter the building for pick-up and drop-off times, and staff will take each child's temperature. Spencer said children 2 years and older will wear masks, along with the staff. Children and staff will also wash their hands every 15 minutes and the facility is preparing for rules from the state that will limit class sizes.

"The child will remain with the same teacher in the same space while they're here at the center every single day," said Spencer. This is to help curb any spread of infection, in case any of the children come into contact with COVID-19.

Spencer said that because her facility and many others in the area are prioritizing daycare access to families in the healthcare field, space may also be limited for other families.

Downtown, nonprofit organization Learning Grove is asking parents to begin readjusting children to a childcare schedule, doing nap times and lunch times at the same time they will at the facility, to help them ease back into things when the time is right. Learning Grove works to help centers in Ohio meet state standards.

Patti Gleason, chief operating officer for the organization, said funding for teachers and caregivers was critically low before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is an opportunity not just to rebuild the broken model, but really think about building a model that works for providers and families and what's best for children," said Gleason.

Spencer herself had hoped that the CARES Act business loan program would help her. But she applied nearly two months ago and said she still hasn't heard anything about it, as of Monday.