Since March, the coronavirus public health crisis has had an unprecedented impact on child care, education and the lives of working parents. Amid the ongoing disruption, Christy Black, owner of Primrose Schools of Bee Cave, Lakeway, Mueller and West Lake Hills, is working to remain a vital resource in the Greater Austin area.
Primrose is a year-round early education and child care provider that serves children 6 months through 12 years old. When the pandemic arrived locally, Black, a mom of four, knew that after 13 years with the company, Primrose would be needed more than ever.
Public schools closed their doors; camps were canceled; and parents shifted to work from home; however, Primrose remained a staple in the community, Black said.
“Parents have commented that [the kids] are more excited than ever to come to school because they know it’s going to be a normal, fun, safe place,” Director of Operations Jordan Owens said.
Still, to provide that sense of normalcy, Black and her team had to pivot. The staff remains masked; children and employees undergo daily temperature checks; and parents or guardians are no longer allowed in the building.
The new procedures have curbed the spread of other illnesses such as strep throat and pink eye, according to Black, who said normally those infections could spread like wildfire among children.
To date, Primrose has seen six confirmed COVID-19 cases across the four campuses, one of which was a child. Black said if anything, the team has been overly cautious to contain the potential spread. “With every case that we’ve had, we’re getting smarter from it, and we’re learning something new every single time,” Black said.
With safety protocols in place, Black is prepared and hopeful for a return to normal. She said revenue is still down about 20%, and enrollment has been cut in half. By March, Black said she hopes to see an increase in enrollment just in time to offer Primrose’s summer camps.
Despite the challenges, Black said her students are resilient, and they have adjusted well.
“People, in general, don’t give children enough credit,” she said. “They’re extremely versatile and they’re strong, and they can adjust to anything really quickly.”