Daycare During the Pandemic: Questions to Consider

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Over the last few weeks, moms all over Michigan have been weighing out back-to-school options for their school-aged children, but what about daycare for our littler ones? 

A simple Google search will bring up hundreds of articles on what questions to ask when first selecting a daycare for your child and the different types of childcare options. Now that the world is a different place, there is an entirely new set of questions we need to ask to know if this is the right choice for our family. 

Detroit Mom is here to help with a new list of questions to consider when it comes to sending your kid to daycare in a COVID-19 world.

Risk is a Gray Area

During this time of uncertainty, every family must assess the level of risk they are comfortable with. Unfortunately, there is no mathematical formula to tell you if something will be 100% safe for you and your kids. However, there are precautions you can take and answers you can look for to make sure you minimize risk to exposure as much as possible. 

Remember that what works for one child and their parents may not be the right fit for another. As you read this list of questions, focus on what is important to you in a childcare center during the pandemic. 

Daycare Pandemic Precautions for Children

We know that young children have a decreased risk of catching the virus (thankfully!) but we also know that they can have no symptoms and act as carriers of COVID-19. The main goal of the following questions is to understand how children are being protected from contracting the virus for their health and for the safety of your family at home.

  • What precautions are being taken to catch potential symptoms? What is the process if symptoms appear?
  • Do you take the childrens’ temperatures? When and how often?
  • How strict is your stay-at-home policy for sick children? Does a little sniffle warrant staying home, or only children presenting with a fever?
  • What is the policy if there is a sick child (COVID positive or just showing mild symptoms)? Will all parents be notified? Does this policy apply to only children who share a classroom, or children in the entire center?
  • How many children are in each class and has this changed with the pandemic? 
  • What precautions have been added to assist children with social distancing since they are too young to understand these concepts?

Rules for Parents

Just like our kids, we need to protect ourselves and those around us. Does your childcare center have rules for parents? Here are some great questions to ask:

  • Are parents allowed in the building and in which areas?
  • How many parents are allowed during pickup/drop off? This includes family members and number of families inside at one time. 
  • Are masks required at all times by parents, even if they are pick-up/dropping-off outside?
  • What is the policy if parents are non-compliant?
  • Is the center offering in-person tours for new families, or only virtual? 

Daycare Pandemic Policies for Teachers

When sending your kids to daycare you are putting their care and happiness in the hands of their teachers. Be sure to find out what standard your caregivers are being held to.

  • Are teachers required to wear masks at all times? Inside and outside?
  • Do teachers routinely have their own temperature taken? If they present with a mild fever or symptoms are they to leave immediately? Do you have teachers on-call in this instance?
  • If a teacher has knowingly come in contact with an infected individual, does the daycare require a mandatory 14-day quarantine?
  • Are they required to have a negative COVID test before returning to work?
  • Has the center temporarily suspended extra outside activities that are not run by teachers? This can include things like: dance or sports teachers, special speakers like firemen or meeting the animals type programs, picture day, etc. If not, what precautions are being taken?

Supplies, Sanitizing and Food

It’s not just people we are worried about but also how the virus may or may not spread on surfaces. Find out what the sanitizing policies are at your center and if there have been any new rules set in place.

  • How often are toys, supplies, tables, and beds sanitized? 
  • Are children allowed to bring toys from home, such as stuffed animals for nap-time? 
  • Are teachers wearing gloves for bathroom/diaper changes or washing hands in between each child? (They should be doing this anyway!)
  • Who prepares the snacks and meals and are they wearing a mask and gloves at all times?
  • How do you prevent children from potentially sharing food?
  • Can I still send my child with their own food in a lunchbox if I choose to?

Protecting Common Areas

Children are often moving between fun and educational areas in the facility. Here are some questions to find out about cleaning procedures and how students may be interacting:

  • Do you only allow one classroom at a time in the hallways?
  • How many classes are on the playground at a time? Are all equipment and toys thoroughly sanitized in between groups?
  • Are children over four required to wear masks inside when in common areas (entry ways, hallways, cafeterias, indoor gyms or other shared areas of the school)?
  • Do children from different classrooms commingle, including siblings?
  • Are there hand-sanitizing stations easily visible and accessible for anyone?
  • Have objects like shared pens in the lobby been removed and devices such as parent sign-in tablets, keypads, or finger scanners been temporarily disabled for use? 

Daycare Pandemic Communication & Compliance

In today’s world, it can be hard to trust others but we need to work together to get through this! Be sure there is constant and accurate communication and that your center is following all the rules they should be!

  • Is the center sending out regular and detailed information? How will new policies be distributed to families?
  • Do you have direct and easy access to your child’s teacher and the center’s director?
  • Are they in full compliance with the state orders? (Find all pandemic regulations for childcare centers here.)

Additional Questions of Concern to Ask

While these may not be deal-breakers for you, the following questions are something to keep in mind so you can fully assess any risk to your child and your family.

  • Does the facility have any college students, and, if so, are they doing classes online or on campus? 
  • Will they be requiring children to get the COVID vaccine when it becomes available? Depending on your family’s immunization choices, this may be information you’d like to know beforehand so you aren’t surprised later on. 
  • You can find additional information and resources regarding vaccine regulations for Michigan at the Michigan Department for Health & Human Services.

Your Choice is the Right Choice

Daycare isn’t for everyone, and it may not be for you during the pandemic. Many families (including my own) have sent their child to daycare, many families have not. Some have opted for part-time daycare to help reduce exposure, while others don’t have this option as they work full-time to provide for their children. All informed choices are the right choices! 

Whatever your decision about childcare during this pandemic will be, know that it’s the right one for you (aka: Super-Hero Mom) and the little ones who look up to you!

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Sofia is a New Yorker living in Troy, dancing in the living room, and waiting for the next appropriate opportunity to eat cake. She's a proud wife, and mom to a giggly, little boy and two loving feline furbabies. After a successful career as a professional ballet dancer, Sofia received a B.S. in Marketing and Business Administration and works as an Experiential Marketing and Events professional. Currently, Sofia is stay at home mom while she discovers the ins and outs of motherhood with her son, born November 2018. When not chasing her super determined child around the house, Sofia enjoys drinking wine with friends, laughing, and watching movies with her husband. She loves experiencing new things and traveling, and is looking forward to introducing her son to all her favorites places. Her passion in life is animal rights, in her free time she supports rescue organizations, local and worldwide, and continues to work on her vegan cuisine skills!

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