Post-Gazette: Expect more cleaning, temperature-taking, and some masks when child care centers reopen
May 14, 2020 By: Kate Giammarise

Closed child care centers will be able to reopen Friday, when the region moves from “red” into the “yellow” partial reopening phase of pandemic mitigation.

Whether they all will choose to reopen, or have enough youngsters to reopen, is another matter.

Many providers are not planning to reopen on Friday, though they are planning on reopening within the next two weeks or so, said Wendy Etheridge Smith, director of the Early Learning Resource Center in Allegheny County. That’s due to both child care centers still ramping up to get ready and some parent hesitancy about safety, she said.

Most child care providers in Pennsylvania have been closed since mid-March, though some have been operating with a waiver and serving the children of “essential” workers such as first responders, or those who work in healthcare or grocery stores. Home-based child care providers, who generally care for a much smaller number of children at a time, have been able to operate uninterrupted.

Child care is “crucial to the daily functioning of our commonwealth,” said Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania secretary of Human Services, speaking on a call with reporters earlier this week.

“Child care is an essential infrastructure to our economy’s recovery. If we don’t have that, our economy doesn’t recover,” said Cara Ciminillo, executive director of advocacy group Trying Together.

About 20% of child care programs remained open in Allegheny County, with many of those being home-based providers, said Ms. Ciminillo.

For programs that do plan to welcome children back on Friday, state officials have been referring them to safety guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among the CDC recommendations — intense cleaning, modified drop-off procedures that allow for children to wash their hands as soon as they enter, and screening children upon arrival for fevers.

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