The city’s stay-at-home order lists child care facilities as essential businesses because they “allow ‘essential’ employees to work.” However, many local daycares and private preschools are operating with just a small percentage of the staff and have fewer children since most children of workers not classified as “essential” are staying home with their parents.
Aspiring Minds Montessori co-owner Kalpit Patel said his facility has a number of parents who are essential workers, so it is operating with a small group of students and staff members.
“It is tough to be open without having that many kids, but we also look at it from the standpoint of current parents because we don't want to leave them hanging,” Patel said. “We want to do the right thing by them. Obviously, they're doing essential work that's needed right now.”
Amanda Jarvis, head of school at Guidepost Montessori at Stonebriar, said she currently has just three staff members working at the school. With 12 classrooms on campus, Jarvis said the school had 39 staffers before the coronavirus closures.
Some local child care centers have adapted by offering are discounted rates for essential workers and a variety of part-time plans to meet parents’ needs.
Jarvis said Guidepost Montessori at Stonebriar received a new student this week from a parent whose job is essential. The school currently has 15 students that range from infant to elementary-age, but there is room for around 100 more, Jarvis said.
The school is following guidelines from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including ensuring no more than 10 people are in a classroom at a time, she said.
“The parents don't actually enter the building,” Jarvis said. “There's two sets of double doors, so I check them in at the front, and then I take them back to their classroom. And then the same thing to go home.”
Representatives from facilities such as Kids 'R' Kids of Lawler Farm and Aspiring Minds Montessori said they are also accepting new enrollments of children from essential worker parents.
Staff at The PREP School at Panther Creek, which is hoping to open in late May, said the facility is offering a 50% discount on enrollment for children of essential workers. The school already has one student slated to attend once it opens.
Patel said Aspiring Minds Montessori is also offering discounts for new enrollments from essential workers as well as options such as half day or full day care.
He said the facility was at capacity before the pandemic hit, so it has the staff available to take on at least 30-40 more students.
“We have the capacity,” he said. “Our teachers are willing to come back to work. [And] if teachers are willing to come back, we can also staff up.”
Jarvis said Guidepost Montessori at Stonebriar is offering a three-day-per-week plan as well as a discounted weekly rate for parents who may not need child care long term.
“For an infant, this is a lot cheaper to do this discounted weekly rate,” she said. “A lot of [parents of] infants are choosing the three-day option because they don't need care every day of the week.”