COVID forces daycares to close, families scramble to find alternatives

CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — COVID-19 has forced more than a dozen local daycare centers to close their doors, leaving families scrambling to find a safe place for their children.

“We’ve been doing the best we can do to keep our head above water,” said Waynett Taylor, the executive director at Lockhart Child Development Center.

Taylor made the difficult decision Monday to close the Concord facility after three students and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

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She said closing was the only option and that identifying close contacts for such a young age group is nearly impossible.

“Instead of just continuing that cycle over and over, let’s see if we can put a stop to it now and give everyone a break,” Taylor said.

In Cabarrus County, 10 out of 55 childcare centers are currently closed due to COVID-19. In Stanly County, five out of 33 are temporarily closed.

The Goddard School on Galloway Road in Charlotte had to shut down Monday and won’t reopen until Jan. 19, a parent confirmed.

“Their stress levels are to the max,” said Ann Benfield, the executive director at the Cabarrus Partnership for Children, which supports childcare centers.

She said directors at the facilities are juggling the health and safety of hundreds of children and staff, as well as the needs of working parents.

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Benfield said she has faced challenges operating the organization, too.

“A lot more of them are seriously contemplating turning in their licenses and just closing and our capacity issues in Cabarrus County are outrageously low,” she said.

Benfield and Taylor ask for understanding from families that even with closures, they still have bills and staff to pay to ensure there are still daycares to serve them.

“We don’t want it to happen to our families, and we understand that but no matter where you go, it’s going be the same thing or they’re not running a business,” Taylor said.

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