‘There’s a higher level of trust:’ Childcare providers wait for reopening guidance

 MEDFORD. Ore. — Since the beginning of the pandemic, finding childcare has become increasingly challenging. Now, some childcare providers are getting ready to reopen—but under new guidance from the state.

The Oregon Department of Education is getting ready to release its final guidance for childcare providers to reopen. The guidance from the Early Learning Division includes rules and regulations childcare providers must follow in order to reopen.

Under Governor Kate Brown’s current orders, childcare centers can’t reopen unless they register as emergency childcare. “They just have to follow a lot of guidelines that relate to safety and health and helping control the spread of the virus,” said Melanie Mesaros with the Early Learning Division.

Mesaros said providers that have stayed open throughout the pandemic have already been following similar regulations. “What’s happened over time as we’ve learned more and more about the virus, and just as things have opened up more and more, or not, in terms of the way we’re operating, some of the guidance has changed for them.”

“I think we’re all sort of waiting on batted breath as to exactly how that’s going to look,” said Sunny Spicer, Executive Director of Kid Time. “There’s a lot of changes that we’re gonna be making that I think will probably stay but that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt to this.”

Spicer said opening under new guidance is going to be a challenge, but they want to get back open for parents. “There’s a higher level of trust amongst all of us and to know that we’re taking precautions not just in the classroom but outside of the building too.”

Current data from ODE shows emergency childcare in Jackson, Josephine and Coos Counties are at less than 80 percent capacity. Douglas, Klamath and Curry Counties are over 90 percent capacity.

“All of us have to work together to get through all of this,” Spicer said, “and that’s something that were all doing. I think knowing … that we’re working together as a community is gonna be very helpful for everyone.”

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