Is daycare essential? Centers worried they won’t reopen

Is daycare essential? Centers worried they won't reopen

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This story about child care services was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter.

MaryLou Beaver loves her job. She’s spent her 35-year career teaching preschoolers, and now she directs her own child care center.

“I’m home,” said Beaver, who directs The Children’s Place and Parent Education Center in Concord, New Hampshire. “I’m with kids. I smile every day again.”

The coronavirus could end all that, perhaps forever.

Because of the spread of the virus, Beaver decided on March 13 to close the center, which is a nonprofit, for two days the following week to do a deep cleaning. She drove to six nearby stores that weekend to find just three gallons of bleach.

A boy plays with blocks at The Children’s Place and Parent Education Center in Concord, New Hampshire. The center is currently closed due to the coronavirus crisis, and MaryLou Beaver, the executive director, does not know when it will reopen.

By March 15, New Hampshire’s governor had ordered all public schools to close, though child care services were allowed to stay open. Beaver, with four of five staffers over age 60 and the youngest worker managing diabetes, decided staying open would be too risky.

Keeping her staff safe had to be her first priority. “It’s a difficult, difficult decision to make,” she said.

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