PANDORA — Daycares reopened on Sunday, but like all other businesses, are operating under very strict guidelines and limited capacity.
In order to comply with social distancing and to attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all childare centers are operating at reduced child-to-teacher ratios.
According to LeeAnn Cornyn, director of the Governor’s Office of Children’s Initiatives, the maximum capacity in any classroom should be 1:9 for those school age or in preschool with 1:6 for infants and toddlers.
“We certainly know that our families absolutely need access to childcare, and we believe that this is a great middle ground that we’ve been able to strike to be sure that our families have access to care and that care is safe,” Cornyn said in a press conference last week. “The temporary childcare centers have really done an excellent job implementing with reduced ratios, really rigorous handwashing and sanitation protocols over the past seven to eight weeks. From that data, we’ve found that with those measures in place, we can really safely care for our kids and families.”
Hilty Preschool and Childcare Center in Pandora was one of the local sites that filed for and was issued a Temporary Pandemic Childcare Center license. Normal operations ceased March 24 and the center re-opened under its temporary license March 26 according to Jason Cox, director of marketing for Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio.
Cox said the license took its maximum capacity of children from 97 to 23. Under current ratios, the center’s capacity is 35 children.
To meet these capacities, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services recommends that those able to stay home with their children do so to keep limited center capacity for those who are unable to stay home as more parents return to work.
In addition to limited class size, all childcare centers will be required to perform temperature checks and increased handwashing or sanitization for its employees, children and parents. Centers are encouraged to implement curbside or staggered pickup and dropoff with a single teacher and to remove any toys with soft surfaces like stuffed animals or soft-backed books as they cannot be sanitized as well.
In the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 or if someone has been in contact with someone who has tested positive, centers have been advised to contact the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and their local health department, where it will be handled on a case-by-case basis in terms of if the center would close.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.