Growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus have led many schools in the region to close. However, some day cares and child care centers are choosing to remain open.
University City Children’s Center is one of them.
The decision to stay open was a tough one, said center director Laura Millkamp. But ultimately she chose to keep the center open for parents that don’t have the option to work from home.
“We have many parents who are emergency or essential personnel at hospitals, who require us to be open for their children to attend in order for them to serve the greater community and greater good here,” Millkamp said.
In order to do that, University City Children’s Center reduced the number of children in the building to less than 50. It also sent some teachers home with pay who were susceptible to the coronavirus or who already had school-age children at home. The response from parents, she said, has been positive.
“Our parents are incredibly thankful,” Millkamp said. “They’re incredible individuals who have really band together to make sure our community has everything they need at this point. And those who are here really do need the care to make sure that our community can remain vital and continue to work.”
The center has also tried to make things as normal as possible for kids who are at home separated from their classmates and teachers. They’ve created a YouTube channel with storytimes, sing-a-longs as well as Facebook live and Zoom meetings so that the children can see their teachers.
“We’re still here,” she said. “That we still love them. And that we will always be here for them and we’re trying to keep everybody healthy and safe right now.”
Millkamp encourages parents to have conversations with their children about how they are feeling. She said children are picking up on the stress and anxiety that adults are having. The center has even provided a guide on its website on how to have those conversations.
“Children feel it,” she said. “They need to know the truth at an age-appropriate level. And it’s really about being present and making sure that your child knows that you are here for them and you will keep them safe. So we reiterate those conversations with our children.”
Their fears have even manifested themselves in the children’s artwork. She said she’s seen kids draw pictures of “scary” germs.
“It’s a really scary time for adults, but our children feel that,” Millkamp said. “And we need to be cautious of how much we listen to around our kids. How much we talk about this around our kids to make sure that that anxiety and that stress that everybody is feeling is not passed onto our children.”
The center started a curbside pick-up and drop-off Thursday with temperature readings for children and staff to ensure everyone who walks in to the building is healthy.
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