With schools being closed indefinitely, the child care industry and parents have had to make changes, and sometimes, tough business decisions.
The United Keetoowah Band Henry Lee Doublehead Child Development Center cares for children between birth and 4 years, and the administration decided to close the center March 17. The tentative reopen date is April 6.
“During this time, the HLDCDC staff will be onsite to clean, sanitize and disinfect all classrooms and offices,” said Brittney Bennett, UKB media director. “We are confident these measures will create a safe and clean environment for our children to return to, whenever that may be.”
Breeanna Cookson and Amanda Houston both had children at HLDCDC, but the families have since made adjustments.
“Me and my husband both work at Walmart, so I just changed my schedule for now to come in when he is off. Walmart is working with us really well right now,” said Cookson in a Facebook post.
Houston has been able to work from home, and her niece, who is also out of school, is helping watch the toddler.
While initially closing early a few times a week for additional cleaning and sanitizing, A Bright Start Development Center closed Friday until further notice.
Sweets Child Care Center has stopped taking new children for now, and staff members have heightened sanitation practices.
“We’re following CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations and no parents are allowed in,” said Dana Sweets, owner. “We are taking [children’s] temperatures as they come in and throughout the day.”
She said parents have responded well to the precautions.
Oklahoma State Department of Health issued strengthened guidelines for child care facilities deeming them “a critical function in the state to address demands from health care workers, front line responders, grocer employees and other critical industries.”
Child care providers have been requested by OSDH to implement the following:
• Prohibit any person except the following from accessing an operation: operation staff; persons with legal authority to enter, including law enforcement officers, state child care licensing staff, and Department of Human Services’ Family and Protective Services staff; professionals providing services to children; children enrolled at the operation; and parents or legal guardians who have children enrolled and present at the operation.
• Provide each child with individual meals and snacks. Do not serve family style meals.
• Require pickup and drop-off of children outside of the operation, unless it's determined there is a need for the parent to enter an operation.
• Before allowing entry into the operation, screen all individuals listed above, including taking the temperature of each person upon arrival at the operation each day, and deny entry to any person who meets any of the following criteria: a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above; signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and low-grade fever; in the previous 14 days has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19; is under investigation for COVID-19; or is ill with a respiratory illness; and in the previous 14 days has traveled internationally to countries with widespread, sustained community transmission.
Yahya Angel Care LLC is currently accepting newborns through 12-year-old children, but parents are dropping kids off at the door instead of going into the care center.
“We are taking more precautions and bleaching daily,” said Kayla Faglie, director. “We are spraying all the cubbies, doors, toys, cots – anything they touch multiple times a day.”
She said parents have been great in understanding the new procedures.
While hand washing is practiced regularly at Yahya Angel Care, Faglie hopes everyone is taking precautionary measures at home, as well.