Earlier lockdown restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are getting eased in several parts of the world. Normalcy has returned somewhat to many homes. My toddler has been in-house for the most part. I take him to playgrounds once in a while when I can feel his cabin fever rising, and he wants out for some fresh air.
While spending time with our kids has been wholesome and difficult to survive in equal measure, the “economy is opening up.” Parents have returned to work. With that comes the extra responsibility of fending for ourselves while seeking caregivers to fend for our kids.
The great daycare debate of 2020
Some daycare centers have resumed normal operations. But if you and your partner both work to support the family, you can’t leave your tiny tots at home alone. The “should I let my kids attend daycare again?” question becomes a struggle between prioritizing health concerns and securing a daily living and professional future. It’s an ongoing mental battle for us parents.
In Germany, daycare centers have been open throughout, with attendance limited to parents who are both essential workers and, in some states, single parents. The risk of contracting the disease in these establishments is still high. Kids at that age cannot appropriately social distance. Hong Kong offered a cautionary tale of reopening schools and closing them again after the second wave. There also have been reported cases of children and staff testing positive in daycare centers.
Researchers meanwhile have found that kids are less likely to become infected and spread the virus. Instead, it is the adults who are responsible for the uptick in cases and deaths. While the coronavirus has largely spared kids, with reports showing a vast majority of affected kids only have the mild form, it doesn’t imply they are out of the woods. Some children may develop this severe complication.
Few parents are lucky enough to keep our kids home and still work. For those who still have the flexibility of working from home, hold off. Kids need to see people other than their parents, so take them outside for outdoor play. Trading childcare shifts with your partner is an arrangement that can still work. It’s not worth sending your kids into the unknown, and this soon. Do what you can to protect the family.
What if you both hold jobs and have no other choice but to take your kids to daycare? First, research the child care return guidelines in place in your area. CDC’s recent guidance for childcare programs that stay open includes health screens upon arrival and curbside drop-offs to limit adult movements inside.
Next, ask your childcare provider what safety measures have been set to help stem the transmission.
- At what capacity have they reopened?
- How frequently will playground structures and surfaces be sanitized?
- Will kids have individual desks and materials?
- Will the teachers and caretakers mask up?
- What are the new standards regarding eating and sleeping spaces?
- As you return to work, what strict measures have you enforced in your household to prevent bringing the virus to your kids, or even older relatives?
If you are confident with the answers to these questions, go ahead. If things go sideways, prepare to adjust accordingly. Good luck!