Local childcare affected by COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a slew of regulations that impact almost every aspect of our lives, and childcare is no exception. Childcare centers across the country have been forced to change the way that they operate due to new restrictions aimed at curtailing the pandemic, the same is true for businesses in Waynesburg.

Daralyn Jurkovich, program director at Rainbow’s End Learning Center in Waynesburg, feels that regulations relating to COVID-19 have changed the experience that children receive.

“They’re used to being with each other and playing with each other, and now we are telling them to not socialize, so it’s a big difference for them,” she said. “We are too busy now taking temperatures, disinfecting constantly and spending more time cleaning and all of that than playing and having fun with them.”

One of the ways that things have changed is the process through which children get dropped off at the facility.

“When children come in now, their parents aren’t allowed to bring them to the room. We escort them to the room after we’ve taken their temperature and done visual checks on them,” Jurkovich said.

Another thing that is different are the policies for allowing sick children into the daycare center. Gone are the days of allowing children with minor colds into the building.

“Whether they develop [symptoms] here or come in with it, we are not accepting them. They have at least two to three days to stay home to see if they have a fever. If not, then we do ask that they get tested,” Jurkovich said. “It’s a lot more of an inconvenience on the parents, because if their child is sick we definitely don’t want them back for a few days.”

Nancy Moore, the owner of Nanny’s Creative Learning Center in Waynesburg, had temporarily closed her facility last fall due to the passing of her mother, but she was planning on reopening in the spring. However, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into her plans and left her uncertain as to her best path forward.

“We were taking a leave of absence and were planning on opening back up in the spring. Of course, then COVID hit, so I was a little bit uncertain about what I was going to do with opening up a facility with children there. So because of COVID, I decided to say that I was going to close,” she said.

Moore said that her decision was partially influenced by her concerns about the disease.

“I was just worried about the risk, I’m the mother of four children myself. I wasn’t really sure what to do or what not to do,” she said.

Moore said that she might reopen in the future, but she expects to change some things if she decides to.

“I do believe that for me to open back up there would be a lot of changes. Obviously the whole temperature taking and all this, I’m hoping that we don’t have to go through that,” she said. “Things won’t be as simple as they were, and I think that’s going to be the new norm. I don’t think that we will be going back to be just as free as we were, even with sicknesses and things.”

Moore doesn’t expect the changes due to new restrictions to seriously impact the need for childcare, although she does think that they will prompt some families to explore alternative solutions for taking care of their children. Overall, she views the changes as a mixed bag.

“Part of me knows that sometimes these changes are for the better for the safety and wellbeing of everybody,” she said. “But in the other sense, sometimes they are for the worse because they are an inconvenience. They add to your workload.”