NC child care centers to operate differently under new safety measures

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Child care centers can now re-enroll some children under phase one of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s plan to reopen the economy.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said children who are approved to re-enroll include children whose parents are going back to work or looking for work, as well as those who are receiving welfare services or who are homeless.

Not all child care facilities have been closed over the last several weeks.

Donna Sand, with C.O.S. Kids in Matthews, said they haven't closed during the pandemic.

They stayed opened for essential workers with only a handful of children at times.

Now, she’ll have about 15 children returning but already required health measures be put in place.

“A lot of parents are very uncertain. still,” Sand said.

She said for many centers it might be a whole new process.

“I would say that the state has well equipped us,” Sand said. “It comes back down to people, humanness, and the decisions that people make on whether or not they choose to comply with those regulations.”

Smart Kids’ Child Development Center was approved to remain open for children of essential workers.

“We all said ‘OK, let’s just do what we know we can, as safely as we can so we can continue to service these families that absolutely depend on our services,’” Chief Operating Officer Latoya Scott said.

Under phase one, child care centers will operate differently.

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Guidelines from NCDHHS require strict entry and cleaning procedures such as sanitizing heavily used areas like playgrounds.

Many facilities will start taking temperatures and provide health questionnaires before you can enter.

Some more safety precautions are to limit the use of teachers who go from class to class, posting COVID-19 safety signage and modifying drop-off and pick-up by not allowing parents inside and limiting exposure to one another.

“Before they even come into the building, even our employees go through health screenings. We take temperatures; we ask health questionnaires that they have to pass before coming in. Of course, our hand-washing processes have always been in place but it’s been enhanced,” Scott said.

The health department is also asking child care staff to check for signs of sickness periodically throughout the day.

The department said to keep an eye on changes in a child’s behavior, runny nose or eyes, pulling at their ears, warm skin and eating or drinking less.