VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Daycare providers are struggling to make room for more students as some parents prepare to go back to work.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Ralph Northam has advised daycare centers to limit classroom occupancy to 10 people per room. That restriction is in place until June 10.
Up until this point, daycare providers were considered essential services, available for frontline workers, like health care professionals and first responders.
But with the governor planning to re-open non-essential businesses on May 15, some parents headed back to work are worried they won’t be able to find care for their children because of occupancy restrictions.
The Goddard School is a daycare and pre-K with five locations in Hampton Roads. The schools serve infants up to 6 years old.
Anne Pope, owner of locations in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Washington D.C., reached out to 10 On Your Side for help.
She says they have stepped up cleaning routines and purchased a Halo disinfectant system. Class sizes were cut in half to make sure they are following the governor’s order. Children and teachers must have temperatures checked daily, before entering the building.
However, now that non-essential businesses could be going back to work next Friday, Pope said she has to turn away parents, who have paid a portion on tuition to save their child’s spot, because the governor’s stay-at-home order in effect until June 10 doesn’t allow more than 10 people in a classroom.
“It’s a very difficult situation because we have told them that we’re holding their spots for them. So as soon as they need to go back to work, we’ll be able to have their children come back. However, at this point our hands are tied,” Pope said.
Pope says she’s also had to turn away some military personnel, since military families make up about 60% of the school’s population.
“Military families were able to work from home for the month of April, but now they are asking them to return back to their offices,”explained Pope.”They have been understanding, but they are also keeping their fingers crossed.”
Pope wrote a letter to the governor, asking that he change the 10-person-per-classroom restriction to match the re-open of non-essential businesses.
Here is a section of the letter:
Consequently, with the 10-person per classroom restriction still in effect until June 10, classroom capacity remains limited and the resulting constraint imposes an untenable challenge for those parents now required to return to work but for the lagging availability of childcare capacity.
Accordingly, we’re requesting that the expiration dates of the 10-person per classroom restriction and the non-essential business re-opening restriction, be synchronized.
Respectfully, Anne Pope, Owner
“Our hands are tied. Its really out of our control, however we are doing everything we can by reaching out to the governor and some local representatives. To bring this to his attention.”
She tells 10 On Your Side a member of the Virginia’s COVID-19 Business Task Force agrees with the concerns and plans to discuss this issue with the team. She also points out, there is no representative for childcare.
WAVY.com reached out to the governor’s office and have not heard back.