Q&A – Florida’s Daycare Facilities During COVID-19 & What We've Learned

Today’s entry: Brian, my daughter-in-law works at a daycare that never closed. She didn't experience any issues or problems related to COVID19, her hours were cut because parents kept kids at home. I'm sure many hospitals and nursing home techs, who were deemed essential, put their children in daycare facilities. With all the talk about should we or shouldn't we open schools, one would think daycare facilities have the factual data needed. I tried searching the CDC site for this data, but couldn't find it. Granted it was my first time on their site and it's not friendly. Have you looked at this data? If so, what's it show? My guess is, it shows no significant spread or it would have been the lead story.

Bottom Line: Your daughter-in-law’s facility certainty isn’t alone in remaining open. During the pandemic, approximately 43% of Florida’s daycare providers have remained open based on data from Florida’s Department of Education and the Department of Children and Families. Also of note, it appears most of the daycare centers which closed didn’t do so because of COVID-19 concerns. Many parents no longer needed daycare during the pandemic as they often were working from home or suffered job loss. Both the CDC and Florida Department of Health have resources and best practices for these facilities during the pandemic. Additionally, both provide guidance that these facilities can be operated safely during the pandemic. 

The Florida Department of Education released a statement from the Office of Early Learning:

The Office of Early Learning (OEL) recognizes child care is a vital need for parents and communities and understands the need to have access to child care services that will enable first responders, health care workers and impacted families to continue shared efforts to address the statewide emergency, COVID-19. The Office of Early Learning, along with local Early Learning Coalitions, has provided child care and early learning services to more than 20,000 children of first responders and health care workers, at free or reduced rates, to support Florida’s response to COVID-19.

So, to your point, if they can be operated safely and have been for over 20,000 children of Florida’s first responders and health care workers, for over four months, there’s certainly a path forward for schools. In fact, to date, there’s been no outbreak linked to daycare facilities in our state, which is likely why you had trouble finding data on it. So back to our schools. The CDC, US Department of Education, Florida Department of Health and Florida Department of Education all recommend classroom education options for students and parents. In fact, they’ve made the case that the public health risk is greater to not offer classroom education options to children. That’s what’s so frustrating regarding the decisions of South Florida’s school districts. Since the onset of the pandemic, the school districts stated they would follow science and health care experts. Instead, they’ve chosen to ignore both science and the top experts in the state and country. And yes, your point and the conversation regarding daycare facilities is highly instructive in this regard.

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