NEW YORK CITY — Parents are preparing for a new normal as day cares across New York City will reopen Monday for children of non-essential workers.
More than 3,000 day care centers are able to reopen beginning Monday, but with strict new guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Katmint Learning Initiative opens its doors in Bedford Stuyvesant Monday morning for the first time in four months, new safety protocols approved by the Department of Health will be in place.
“It’s a new day tomorrow,” Neidylin Vega, director of operations, told PIX11 News.
Among the new health and safety protocols families can expect are a 15-child limit per room; face coverings for staff and children over 2 years old; daily health screenings; limited sharing of toys and other items; and frequent cleaning and disinfecting.
Katmint expects 16 students ages 2 to 5 to return Monday; that’s less than a third of their usual enrollment.
“We’re doing the best we can, following the guidelines that we are mandated to follow and adding to that,” Vega told PIX11 News. “It’s a bit of a process and a journey.”
At the Kiddie Academy of Williamsburg, education director Nicole Barnhardt told PIX11 News earlier this week the protocols for reopening will result in an environment that’s different from what families had been used to.
“Now we’re having to create what’s called cohorts,” or separated groups, she said.
By keeping each group of students separate from other groups at all times, Barnhardt said, “if there’s an outbreak, or if someone gets sick, we’re able to target that it came from one particular group.”
With more New Yorkers going back to work as the city continues with Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, day care centers offer another child care option aside from day camps, which began operations on Monday.
Still, some parents expressed a reluctance to send their children back to day care.
“Kids are so germy, and they carry everything,” Chantal Coleman said, as she watched her child, niece and nephew at a local playground on Tuesday. “So they’ve got to figure out a way to not have them spreading everything around.”
But it’s also a moment many parents have been waiting for.
Dave Franzese, a Bedford Stuyvesant resident and graphic designer, has been working from home ever since the New York PAUSE for the pandemic began in mid-March.
“It’s been very rewarding and there have also been challenges as well,” Franzese said. “To be there first hand to watch my child develop over four months is something I wasn’t anticipating.
Franzese, his wife and their two daughters are looking forward to the reopening of Katmint Learning Initiative.
“They’ve been very comprehensive and really good about making us know that they’re going to take temperatures every day and asking questions about whether child has traveled,” Franzese told PIX11 News. “So I feel good sending my kids back there.”