LIMA — When Gov. Mike DeWine announced the closing of schools for three weeks, it didn’t apply to daycare centers.
With the number of COVID-19 virus cases growing every day, he could close them at any time. Sunday afternoon, he said at a news conference that he will close them and parents should be prepared. He encouraged parents to take their kids out of daycare as soon as they can.
“Honestly, as of Friday, we were encouraging parents to still bring in their kids,” said Christina Vorhes, director of Trinity Center for Creative Childcare in Lima. “I kind of hated to hear that he said that, but I understand where he’s coming from. We’re going to meet on Monday to discuss talking with parents and giving them the option of what they want to do — to still bring their kids over the next few weeks or to keep them out.”
Many daycares have already taken measures to disinfect their buildings.
“Our number one priority is the safety of the children and our staff,” said Rachael Smith, director of Little Pioneers Early Learning School in Lima. “We’ve taken precautions already when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing all of our toys and everything that children could possibly touch.
“If parents choose to make that decision to keep their kids out for now, I support that decision because they’re choosing what is right for their family and to keep their kids safe. But as of right now, we don’t have any kind of panic going on for our daycare and most of our parents are very appreciative that we’re staying open, because they still have to work and they still need childcare. As long as we’re legally allowed to be open, we will remain open,” Smith said.
Many staffers are prepared to do babysitting in their homes if DeWine shuts down daycares.
“Most of my staff are willing (to babysit). Just because we’re also unsure of how staff would be paid. We’re a nonprofit. So that’s something else that I hope that he takes under consideration that if he starts closing this down, how are some people supposed to live? A lot of us live paycheck to paycheck,” Smith said.
The governor also called for classes to be segregated to keep the chances of spreading the virus low.
“We have segregated areas, and what we are doing is we’re making sure we’re keeping groups as small as we can. Typically for lunch, we will have, at one point, up to three to five classes at one time in our lunchroom. Starting on Monday, we are going to change that. Everybody’s going to be eating in their own classrooms so that each group is eating by themselves,” Vorhes said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409