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  • Writer's pictureInstitute Staff

Coronavirus: It is Time for Child Care Programs To Close

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

These are unprecedented times. Throughout the country we have seen mass closures of a wide variety of businesses - from movie theaters, bars, restaurants, houses of worship, automobile factories, the entire professional sporting industry to even the cancellation of the White House Easter Egg Roll. Despite the closures, there is one group that continues to provide services - the early childhood sector.

On first glance, it would appear that child care programs have been shuttered as well, especially considering that at least 42 states have closed K-12 school systems. However, this is not the case for those working in early childhood. Those working to care for our youngest have been faced with an astounding lack of direction and leadership. Mixed messages from elected and public health officials have only compounded the confusion, leaving early childhood professionals to make decisions on their own.

States, such as Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin and Oklahoma acknowledge the essential services that early childhood professionals provide and urge them to stay open. Whereas states, such as Rhode Island, Alabama, Kentucky and Massachusetts have ordered early childhood programs to close. Vermont ordered all child care programs to close, but those serving essential personnel are allowed to remain open. As of March 22, 2020, a study conducted by the Institute for Childhood Preparedness found that only 8 states have ordered early childhood programs to close. Across the pond, the United Kingdom has ordered all child care programs and nurseries to close as of March 20th, with the exception of those caring for the children of essential personnel.

Early Childhood Programs Needs to Close

We do not yet know all of the nuances of this new virus. What we do know is that it is of the utmost importance to protect human life and prevent the spread of the virus. While originally it was believed that this virus only impacts the elderly and those with underlying conditions, new studies have provided evidence to the contrary. This has led the World Health Organization to warn that “children can also experience severe disease.”

A newly released study found that 90% of coronavirus cases in children were asymptomatic, mild or moderate. However, 6% were severe or critical. Of those severely ill, more than 60 percent of the children were less than five years of age and 32% were under 12 months old. Further, studies examining the virus in children have discovered evidence that the virus can remain active in a child’s respiratory tract and in their stool for several weeks after diagnosis.