Everyone is being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic – for some it may be just a mild inconvenience, for others it may be a major disruption to their daily lives. Some people are overwhelmed and beginning to panic while others are completely nonchalant.
For those of us working in childcare the big question has been ‘Is the daycare going to close?’ and the only available answer has been ‘We don’t know.’
Even in the field there are arguments both for and against closing childcare facilities. Many think that because the schools are closing, childcare facilities should too. Others argue that childcare is an essential service and must remain open for those parents who need to go to work.
My personal, possibly not popular opinion, is that licensed childcare facilities should NOT be forced to close.
Certainly, any sick children or staff should not be there and should be isolated at home, but what about those children whose parents still need to go to work? If they have a spouse or other family member who is temporarily off work then they have options but what if they don’t?
What if their only available childcare option is Grandma – whose immune system is already compromised? Maybe another choice is the unlicensed childcare provider who wasn’t forced to close and now has agreed to temporarily take in any and all the children who need childcare.
Wouldn’t a licensed childcare facility – with strict cleaning and disinfecting procedures already in place – be a better option?
Yes, social distancing is a very difficult if not impossible concept for children but most trained early childhood educators have the skills to implement games and activities to limit direct contact. Many of us will actually be spending most of our time playing outdoors in the fresh air.
If licensed facilities are forced to close where will those children go? Are they able to be with their family or are their parents at work and the children are huddled on the couch watching movies with their friends. What if their parents’ only option now is to send them to that one person on the block who says ‘No problem, send them all here, we’re having a party’.
Sure, if parents are off work and able to use this situation to be isolated at home spending quality time with their family that is probably the best option. The reality is that there are still a lot of parents who need to go to work and closing all licensed childcare facilities might just be the worst thing to do.