Parents have been counting down the days until daycares reopen, and like all of us, they have A LOT of questions. After months of anxiously waiting, we finally received some guidance from the state on what reopening daycare will look like. Keep reading to find answers to the top 15 questions asked by parents during our recent, live Q&A on Instagram Live with COO Bridget Garsh and Parent Matchmaker Olivia Guptill.
Got a question we didn’t answer? Let us know here and we’ll get back to you!
Q: How soon will daycares be able to reopen?
A: Starting the week of June 15th, daycares will submit applications to reopen. Once they’re approved they can immediately open, but we expect it will take some time for the state to review all the applications. So we’re expecting most programs to be able to open on June 29th. If there’s a specific daycare you’re interested in, let us know and we’ll keep you up to date.
Q: When programs reopen, will the same number of kids be permitted or have the ratios changed?
A: Fortunately, because home daycares already have such small, individualized programs, the ratios didn’t change. Most have 6 children and some have a max of 10 with a Provider + assistant.
Q: What will drop-off and pick-up look like?
A: Drop-off and Pick-up are going to look and feel pretty different. Parents and Providers will work together to do a staggered drop off so you’re not stuck waiting in line or feeling rushed, and so everyone can keep their distance. Your Provider will designate a specific spot that’s outside of the daycare space. This could be outside of the home entirely, in an entry hallway or a front room – it will depend on the Provider’s home. You’ll need to wear a mask and it’s recommended that the same parent does pick up and drop-offs to reduce the risk of exposure. Providers won’t be doing temperature checks at the door, but you will have to answer some questions about symptoms, exposure to people with Covid, etc. If your child doesn’t pass, they’ll have to stay at home.
We know that this can be incredibly hard on families and frustrating at times, but this is ultimately for the safety of your kiddo, the other kiddos, and the program as a whole. Having a sick child may put the daycare at risk of having to close for an extended period of time, and we definitely don’t want that!
Q: How will my child learn and play now?
A: This is top of mind for Providers. They’re working hard and thinking creatively to come up with new ways for kids to learn and play. Unfortunately, sharing toys is off-limits unless the toy is sanitized first, and communal play spaces like sandboxes are a no-go. We’ve been so inspired by how the providers are rising to this challenge, and we’ve already heard some great ideas. Here’s one: a box with dividers creating a section for each child filled with markers, crayons and playdough so each one has their own set of art supplies. Also, getting individual buckets and cups so the kids can still engage in water play outside. We’ve been having weekly calls with providers so they can trade ideas and learn from one another. It’s been especially helpful to hear from providers at the emergency care programs since they’ve been doing this for a few weeks now.
Q: Does my child have to wear a mask?
A: Nope. Masks for children over the age of 2 are encouraged, but it’s ultimately up to you, the parent.
Q: What does social distancing actually look like in a daycare?
A: Providers will do their best to maintain social distancing between kiddos and themselves, especially during group activities like snack and lunch, but we all know this will be hard. Providers will be wearing masks whenever they’re less than 6 feet away from a child. They’ll be clearing out furniture and moving things around to create more space. Kids will spread out during nap and may sleep head to toe. We’ve heard some great ideas for helping to keep kids apart like turning this into a game by putting down painter’s tape to create paths around the space with little spots along the way for each child to stop and play. They’ll think it’s a little obstacle course and they’ll also be spread out so it’s a win-win.
Q: So we know that Providers have come up with some really creative ways to help toddlers social distance, but what will infant care look like now?
A: Whenever Providers can’t socially distance (comforting, rocking and snuggling your little one) they will be wearing masks. They’ll also wear gloves for all diaper changes, preparing bottles, and applying sunscreen.
Q: How else are daycares stopping germs from spreading?
A: Throughout the day, there will be a lot more handwashing by Providers and kiddos. Providers will wear gloves when prepping food, changing diapers or helping kids on the potty. Each child will have their own plate, utensils and cups during lunch or snack, and providers may use more disposable goods or pre-packaged food to be extra cautious. Don’t tell the dentist…but brushing teeth during the day is off limits for now. And after all the kiddos leave, Providers will do a deep cleaning and sanitizing of the space, toys, dishes, and their own clothes.
Q: What happens if a child gets sick at the program?
A: If your child looks sick in the morning, please do not send them to daycare…you’ll be putting everyone at risk. If they start showing symptoms during the day, they will have their temperature taken and then quarantined in a designated space like a separate area of the room with a partition until they can be picked up. They’ll need to be picked up ASAP. The Provider will notify all parents and contact local health officials for next steps.
Q: Can my child still bring their favorite lovey or stuffed animal?
A: Unfortunately, soft toys aren’t recommended because they are harder to clean, but we know that this transition will be hard on parents and kiddos, so putting together a photo collage or sending them with a pic of your little family may help them to feel better when they miss you. We’re just about to publish a blog post about how to help you and your kiddo during this transition. So stay tuned for some more tips.
Q: Will they be able to go to the playground?
A: Yes. They will not be able to use other shared amenities like the picnic table, and they must get written permission by each parent, so if you are uncomfortable with it your kiddo wouldn’t have to go. However, many providers will likely opt to use their own outdoor space.
Q: My schedule changed and I need to work longer hours, how long can my child stay at a home daycare?
A: The maximum is 12 hours. But more guidance to come here.
Q: Since daycares have been closed for so long, are more parents searching for care now? If a parent is just starting their search, when should they reach out to find a program?
A: For all of our enrolled families, we’ll keep you up to date on your specific provider’s timeline. For anyone still searching, let us know ASAP if you’re interested in starting care in July or August because there are a lot of families searching right now, and we want to make sure we can get you into an open spot.
Q: How can I ease back into care?
A: Parents may want to first visit the program, reconnect with the Provider, then start with 3 days before working up to 5, etc. This is going to be different for each program, but many Providers are open to this set up. Please make sure that you talk to them directly.
Q: What if I’m not ready to resume care yet? Can we reserve our spot?
A: It depends and will be up to each provider. Because lots of families are looking for daycare right now, you may have to pay full or partial tuition to hold your spot. This is a very new situation for both parents and providers, so we encourage parents who are enrolled in programs already to talk to their providers and be open about when you’ll be comfortable returning to care.
Thanks again to everyone who joined us and for all the great questions. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post with tips for how to transition your child back to daycare. If you’re looking to start care in the next few months, please reach out to us right away so we can make sure you get a spot!
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.