Delaware Public Media

Child care centers remain open in Delaware at state's recommendation

Mar 17, 2020

Schools are closed in Delaware amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus, but many child care providers are staying open. 

The state of Delaware issued guidance to non-public child care providers earlier this week recommending they stay open. The state cites a CDC recommendation and data showing out of 74,000 cases of COVID-19 in China, only 2 percent under the age of 19. 

The guidance also recommends increasing sanitary practices at child care centers.

Jill Fredel is Director of Communications for Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). She notes sanitation practices at those facilities are already thorough.

We know who’s coming in and out of childcare centers. We have good hygiene in child care centers—they are accustomed to it because you have children of ages younger than 12, typically, in child care centers,” said Fredel. “And the guidance also said if you want to close your child care center it’s your business you can make that decision. This is just guidance.”     

Fredel adds some child care centers in Delaware have made the decision to close, and that guidance from DHSS could change at any time as this is an evolving situation.

The state’s recommendation saw some pushback from State Rep. John Kowalko (D), who sent an email to DHSS questioning the state's data saying “There is no evidence to believe that children in a private daycare are less likely to transmit the disease than children in public school.”

Gov. John Carney (D) later issued a response reiterating the CDC and DHSS recommendation.

Kowalko calls this policy "dangerous" saying he has yet to receive a response to his concerns from DHSS leadership.

Heather Tatum is the administrator at Beginnings and Beyond in Dover. She says parents are glad her child care center is following the state's recommendation.

“Because of the inconvenience and the issue that it poses with us closing,” said Tatum. “I’ve had some parents that are worried, of course, of the spread of [coronavirus] itself, but we use the same precautions that we always use—just washing our hands constantly and cleaning inside and out of all of our classrooms at all times.”