Reaction to the DPH Press Release on Coronavirus

March 15, 2020

I am so disappointed that the state agencies are not only not supporting EEC centers but are willing to put folks at risk.  There are other solutions here, but simply to tell centers to just do what you do and hope for the best is untenable.

Below are my thoughts and reactions to the statement from the Department of Public Health:

  • “Data available from 74,000 cases in China”…. It is great data and gives hope for little ones.  However, the amount of adults who walk into centers is anywhere from 2-3 times the number of children.  They are not just dropping off at the front door, but walking into classrooms, talking with staff, sitting and having breakfast with their children, etc.
  • “Child care centers are controlled environments generally with small classroom sizes.”   That is a picture of a child care center from a distance.  Up close, while there are small class sizes, those children and families walk through hallways, cafeterias, gross motor rooms, playgrounds, etc.  Furthermore, instructing a K-12 student to sneeze/cough into the elbow is a whole lot different exercise, with different outcomes than trying to convey that message to an infant, toddler, or preschooler.
  • “Providers know who is coming in and out,…”  Asking providers to police contagion far exceeds the expectations for other systems—K-12, e.g.
  • “providers do not need DPH approval to submit test samples to private labs.”  Who will pay for these samples?  Who will deliver them?  What medical supplies are needed to do this safely?  What medical training is needed to do this safely?
  • “Providers only need to collect nose swabs….”  Potentially, exposing themselves?

This makes no sense to me and I confess to be struggling with my anger here.

The plan for St. Michael’s is that we are closed tomorrow (Monday, 3/16) for children and families.  Administrative staff will report at 8:30am and classroom staff at 1:00pm.  I want to have clear protocols in place before we open Tuesday—unless the State of Delaware comes to its senses before then.

My concern is that we will not have enough staff for every room.  Out of 43 staff members here, 20 have young children themselves and an additional 9 are in the “at-risk” category.  The plan is to meet with staff and understand their ability to commit to coming to work.  At that point, we can figure out which rooms can be open and which cannot.  We will let families know and they can “reserve” spots on a first come, first served basis.  It will not be pretty, but we will stay in OCCL guidelines and keep children as safe as possible.

Lucinda Ross, Executive Director