VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Daycares must now follow a lengthy list of federal and state guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic. The toughest is keeping young children a safe, six feet apart.
“When you go into the three-year-old room and the whole classroom wants to run up to you, hug you, you have to say no we can’t hug,” said Brilliant Beginnings Learning Center Owner Kisha Roberts. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Brilliant Beginnings Learning Center in Virginia Beach is well-versed in the new rules. They’ve been open for essential staff ever since the stay-at-home order began.
Owner Kisha Roberts said there are dramatic modifications to daily operations.
She said their parents aren’t allowed back into the daycare and must stay in the lobby. Temperatures are taken at the door and employees wear masks their entire shift.
“When teachers go past a certain point, they have to have booties on, gloves,” Roberts said. “They have to wash their hands continuously.”
Class sizes are limited to nine students with a teacher. State guidelines only allow 10 people per room.
It’s a new world for kids. The staff promotes individual play instead of group activities to space children out.
“We are still engaging with our students, we are just trying to do that, spaced a little bit further apart,” said Brilliant Beginnings General Manager Katie Abramson.
The YMCA of South Hampton Roads is helping kids visualize the invisible barriers.
“We have markers on the floor, X’s on the carpet,” said Vice President of Youth Development Jamie Childress. “We are spacing tables out.”
Childress said they are filling up for the summer, even amid COVID-19.
“We are actually seeing increased enrollment for summer camp,” Childress said. “We are seeing very few people pull out.”
Childress said as of right now, activities will be limited.
“No playgrounds or pools,” Childress said.
Childress also said they are limiting sports activities.
Next, daycare staff are looking at CDC recommendations for kids two and older to wear masks.
“I’m not sure if you have met our two-year-olds, but keeping a mask on their face is going to be challenging,” Roberts said.
As parents get back to work, Roberts worries the governor’s 10-person room cap won’t cut it.
“If he doesn’t allow us to go over 10, honestly, there is going to be a shortage of childcare,” Roberts said.