How Parents And Day Care Centers Can Keep Kids Safe After Reopening NPR's Scott Detrow speaks to child care consultant Lucy Mullen Davis about the guidelines centers — and parents — are considering before reopening.
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How Parents And Day Care Centers Can Keep Kids Safe After Reopening

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How Parents And Day Care Centers Can Keep Kids Safe After Reopening

How Parents And Day Care Centers Can Keep Kids Safe After Reopening

How Parents And Day Care Centers Can Keep Kids Safe After Reopening

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NPR's Scott Detrow speaks to child care consultant Lucy Mullen Davis about the guidelines centers — and parents — are considering before reopening.

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

Go back. Don't go back. Go back. Don't go back - this is the debate playing out every single day all across the country inside the heads of parents of day care-age children. Many facilities have opened back up or are getting ready to do so, and the CDC has put out guidelines that include regularly sanitizing toys and taking children's temperatures. Child care providers are working to put them in place to keep their employees safe and to keep the children they're caring for safe. And the resurgence of cases across the Sun Belt has made all of this even more fraught. Lucy Mullen Davis has been working through all of this. She's with Denver's Early Childhood Council and joins us from Denver, Colo. Welcome.

LUCY MULLEN DAVIS: Hi, Scott.

DETROW: So your work includes talking to child care providers, consulting them on how to prepare to reopen. What are some of the main concerns, the main challenges you're hearing from them?

DAVIS: So from the child care provider perspective, one of the issues is they're struggling financially. That's probably number one. Number two, there has always been a shortage, at least in Colorado, of qualified child care workers. And this has made it worse because a number of workers have had to leave or permanently seek another job because they are immunosuppressed, or someone in their family is. Or they're just nervous about the whole situation.

DETROW: Let's get to the basic problem here. I'm the father of a toddler. Social distancing is not something that they comprehend. If they comprehended it, it's not something they want any part of. That is just not how a toddler works. So what are you telling day care centers to do? Because, like, obviously, social distancing is a really important safety guideline. And at the same time, it just doesn't seem that feasible.

DAVIS: You're exactly right, Scott. So one of the techniques that we've been training our teachers, especially for, like, toddlers, the really young ones that are extremely impulsive, is setting up furniture in the room and making, like, an obstacle course or little cubbylike areas. And then teachers have been trying to work with them and sitting with them and getting them engaged in their play and trying to prevent them from encountering their peers in the classroom.

DETROW: Which of the recommendations, to you, are the most important to having some sort of safe environment?

DAVIS: Obviously, the disinfecting, which - in child care, that has always been a central part of your licensing regulations. Now they're just heightened, where they're doing a deeper type of disinfecting. But I would say one of the things that we do have a little concern about with our infants and toddlers is actually having our adults wear masks.

Their development is so crucial, and it happens so much in those first couple of years that when this first started, none of us really thought about the fact that the face is covered, as children learning language and social and emotional cues from a face. If you ever look at a baby, they're always intent on your face. That's how they're learning. Now that we're a little bit down the road, this is of concern right now, and a lot of people are kind of moving to using face shields so that infants and toddlers can learn language and see social cues.

DETROW: I feel like a lot of parents might be hearing this, and if they have kids in day care or who used to be in day care up until March, this certainly is probably the 10 millionth time they've thought about this. What is your advice to parents wrestling with what to do, whether to send their kids back or not?

DAVIS: Well, quite frankly, it depends on the community they're coming from. You have to decide, what is the amount of risk I'm willing to take? First of all, is the child immunosuppressed in any way? Is anybody in the family immunosuppressed in any way? Really looking at the center that they either have used or they're going to use and find out, what are they doing? Then decide, what is the risk? I mean, there is a degree where there's risk all the time. You know, there's measles and mumps and all kinds of things. And right now, our little ones are not as impacted, but we know they're the worst carriers.

DETROW: Lucy Mullen Davis works with Denver's Early Childhood Council in Denver, Colo. Thank you so much.

DAVIS: You're welcome.

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