Lowcountry child care centers adapting routines to keep children safe during pandemic

VIDEO: Lowcountry child care centers adapting routines to keep children safe during pandemic

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As parents are returning to work, more child care centers are reopening in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

For some daycare centers the routine of walking your child inside and saying your goodbyes at the classroom door is no longer commonplace.

Child care centers have new safety precautions in place in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Mother Jeanette Meeks says her 3-year-old returned to Cane Bay Academy in Summerville last Monday when they reopened.

The child care center is operating on a lower capacity until June 1.

“Sending him back when it’s not so crowded is a little bit of an easier adjustment for him, and it also makes us feel a little bit safer, that way they can practice everything they need to do to keep everyone safe when it reopens completely,” Meeks said.

Meeks says she took off from work during the daycare's two month closure.

"We don't have family in the area, and I didn't want to send him to a babysitter where other children would be," Meeks said. "I didn't feel safe having anyone else watch my son."

Meeks says she is pleased with the guidelines in place at Cane Bay Academy and feels her son is in good care. She says her son is social and was ready to get back to see his friends.

"I think the change was really nerve racking more than anything," Meeks said. "Nobody really knows how this is going to play out or even what's going on right now. Definitely the first couple days were very rough for I think my whole family, but once we knew he was happy and healthy in there it wasn't too bad."

Director of the Cane Bay Academy Latrice Smith says it's wonderful to be back with the kids and staff.

“They’re not used to being dropped off without their parents bringing them in the building. They are not used to seeing their teachers with masks on so it was difficult the first couple of days,” Smith said. “With the teacher’s patience and grace we got through it together.”

Smith says parents sign the children in at a table outside and the children are escorted in by staff where they are taken to wash their hands. Staff are checking their temperatures everyday, wearing masks and sanitizing areas. Parents are also instructed to take their children's temperature before dropping them off.

Smith says it was stressful being closed for two months.

"We have lots of families that do need our childcare, but to stay in touch we did video chats, we read stories, we did songs," Smith said. "We did a lot of interactive videos to stay in touch with our families."

Smith says she's appreciative for the teachers who have returned and will soon return.

“We love all of our families and we can’t wait to have everyone back with us on June 1,” Smith said.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services is offering guidance and recommendations that child care providers can take keep staff and children health.

The Department of Social Services provided the following recommendations for providers to consider:

  • Make sure children, staff, and visitors are washing hands as directed by SC DHEC.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces within the facility regularly.
  • Practice social distancing when possible.
  • Consider changing your sign in procedures for parents and other visitors (e.g., move handoffs closer to the front door to minimize parents coming into the classroom space and avoid possible exposure to children and caregivers).
  • Limit visitors to the facility.
  • The careful handling of your food service to children is important. Please limit communal sharing of food, and donations where possible.

DSS says there is one-time grant available to assist child care providers with additional cleaning supplies or services needed to remain open. The grant is available to licensed or registered child care providers or license-exempt providers enrolled in the ABC Quality program and not operating in a school building.

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