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Childcare centers face new regulations

T-R FILE Photo Becky Kouang, owner of Dandy-Lion Early Childhood Learning Place talks about her day care facility and how she’s handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Childcare has been especially challenging during the pandemic, as there is a real danger of the virus spreading between children at a center. While many have chosen to stay open as nonessential businesses closed, others are just now reopening after months.

Bobcat Academy will reopen on Monday after almost three months of being closed. The day care closed its doors to the public on March 13.

Directors Amber Young and Ashley Johnson have introduced new procedures to protect the health of staff and children.

“We have many new regulations we are required to follow. We are tremendously proud of our staff members and all they are doing to ensure the safety of our students coming back,” Young said.

Staff spent Thursday cleaning toys and surfaces, ensuring they have proper supplies and making plans to reduce contact between children.

Despite the difficulties ahead, Bobcat Academy is committed to helping the community by offering care.

“We realize as a community partner that we want to be able to help parents as much as we can, so reopening is part of that process,” Johnson said.

Parents will drop their children off at the door where they will be screened. During this screening, parents will be asked about the health of their household. The children will also have their temperature taken and a visual inspection done. Staff will take children’s temperatures again during the day and instruct them to wash their hands after entering. All staff will wear masks.

Disinfecting will be done frequently and hand sanitizer stations will be placed outside each classroom.

DHS is currently requiring centers to limit the number of children to 10 in each classroom and limit contact with other groups of children and staff as much as possible. This will likely be a challenge for many childcare providers.

Dandy-Lion Early Childhood Learning Place has stayed open during the pandemic. Owner Becky Kouang said there have been some changes she has had to make. She now interviews new families over the phone instead of in person. Parents stay outside when dropping off their children, and Kouang takes their temperature and does a wellness check before they enter.

She has also tightened their sickness policy, with kids staying home if a family member is sick.

“We’ve always kept the place really clean and sanitary,” Kouang said. “So that hasn’t really changed too much.”

Another concern has been access to supplies.

“One struggle was finding supplies such as bleach, hand soap, meat and toilet paper, especially when there were limits on purchases,” she said.

Elim Children’s Center has also remained open.

According to Lisa Rushton, the center has taken many precautions, such as meeting the parent at the door, cleaning surfaces thoroughly and taking the temperature of children and staff.

“We went by all the DHS guidelines,” she said.

Despite the difficulty of keeping everyone safe, providers are dedicated.

“We ensured the safety of the children,” Rushton said.

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Contact Anna Shearer at

ashearer@timesrepublican.com.

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