Capacity is at 10% of what it was before stay-at-home orders took effect oMarch 25, said Dawn Wilson, owner of My Lil Wranglers Preschool in Keller.
“It was hard to swallow when it happened,” Wilson said. “One day, we were all together, and the next day, we weren’t. It is a weird thing [to ask] a four-year-old to understand.”
Enrollment at the 50-student school dropped from 42-44 kids to 8-12 kids per day, she said.
The school has applied for loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration, but so far, it has only received a small grant to cover a portion of payroll costs.
“When it first happened, I thought we should just close,” Wilson said. “I thought this was it. I have never been through anything like this before, and I do not know when we are coming out of it.”
As essential workers seek child care options, public health officials have updated guidelines for child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Tarrant County Child Care Task Force and the Texas Department of Health and Human Services have detailed best practices for licensed child care providers.
Among new coronavirus-related recommendations are the use of masks by adult instructors and a requirement for programs to contact Child Care Management Services for a no-cost deep cleaning of their facility if a positive COVID-19 case is detected.
“We have incorporated using masks and gloves when we are greeting families in the morning,” said Nicole Cuellar, Director of Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Keller. “We do not allow any adults besides teaching staff in the facility. Everyone is currently drop-and-go.”
According to county and state guidelines, the use of cloth or homemade masks is recommended for instructors. Children are not required to wear a mask, and mask use by children under two-years-old is prohibited.
“As far as we can control, we make sure everyone coming into the building is not running a fever or exhibiting any other [COVID-19] symptoms,” Cuellar said.
If a COVID-19 positive case is detected at a child care facility, the program is expected to be closed between two and five days. Classrooms in which a positive case was detected must quarantine for 14 days.
Additional staff and children at a facility that detects a positive COVID-19 case are not required to quarantine.
Texas DHS general COVID-19 guidelines for child care providers include the following.
- Limit outside visitors
- Temperature checks before adult individual entry
- Outdoor pickup and drop-off
- Individual child meals, not family style
- Regular sanitizing and hand washing
- Compliance with CDC recommendations, including:
- Wash hands with soap and water
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue
- Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces
Additional child care guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic are available through the Texas DHS here.
“Come fall, if we all stay healthy, maybe we could start seeing a profit,” Wilson said. “It could be longer than that if people don’t feel safe sending their kids back to day care and school.”