Kentucky’s child care centers and day camps may reopen Monday for the first time since closing in mid-March over concerns about children spreading the coronavirus.
But Community Education Exec-utive Director Bill Oldham said the nonprofit won’t be ready to offer its summer programming by that date. Instead, it’s aiming to open July 6 through 31, and it can initially accommodate up to 50 children between kindergarten through the fourth grade.
Leading up to the program’s opening at the Bowling Green Learning Center at 503 Old Morgantown Road, Oldham said Community Education staff members have been coordinating with custodial staff to set up meticulous cleaning procedures.
“That’s been a very good first step. They’re very interested in working with us,” Oldham said of the facility, which is owned and maintained by the Bowling Green Independent School District.
Under state guidelines, children and adults will be screened for fevers and other contagious symptoms before entering child care facilities.
Children will be limited to groups of 10 and won’t be permitted to mingle with other groups.
Also consistent with state guidance, children won’t be required to wear face coverings, unlike staff.
The state has recommended that young children not wear masks for their safety, but child care programs may recommend to parents of children older than age 5 that their child wear a mask and provide information about the benefits of wearing one.
“Students are not required, but they’re certainly welcome to” wear masks at Community Education’s program, Oldham said. “That’s a family decision.”
Oldham said the nonprofit’s 50 available child care slots will be initially reserved for families currently affiliated with its summer program.
Information about additional space, if available, will be shared on Community Education’s website and social media accounts.
The program costs $130 per week, per child, Oldham said, and that includes a breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack provided by BGISD’s food service staff. The day camp will run each week between Monday and Friday, he said. Currently affiliated parents can expect more information by email this week, Oldham said.
The gradual launch of Community Education’s summer programming comes at a precarious time for child care providers across the state.
A coalition of child advocacy groups is calling for additional federal aid and on Monday released a survey of Kentucky’s 2,172 child care providers. With more than 1,500 providers responding, the survey found that 11 to 15 percent of that group may have to permanently close because of the financial fallout of COVID-19 if additional federal aid doesn’t come.
“This threat could break an already fragile child care ecosystem that lost nearly half of its providers from 2013 to 2019,” Prichard Committee President and CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey said in a news release. “We are calling for Congress to provide $50 billion in assistance to child care as part of the federal stimulus efforts.”
United Way of Kentucky President Kevin Middleton echoed that call.
“The results of our child care provider survey clearly show the need for greater financial support from Congress, and for a continued substantial, engaged planning with providers at the state level,” he said in the release. “Both are critical in ensuring that Kentucky’s child care infrastructure is sustained immediately and in the long term.”
In a typical summer, Community Education staff would supervise roughly 500 students, Oldham said. Although Oldham doesn’t anticipate Community Education will take a significant financial hit from the delayed opening of its summer program this year, he’s less certain about the fall.
“Right now, we have absolutely no idea what we’re going to be able to offer in the fall,” Oldham said, adding that his organization is having to craft an annual budget with myriad uncertainties. “That’s what concerns me.”
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.