LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Daycare workers providing crucial care for children of essential workers during the coronavirus crisis have faced struggles while keeping children safe with less staff than usual.
It’s always quiet during nap time at Mesa Verde Preschool in Costa Mesa, but these days, things are much quieter with fewer children and less staff working.
Since many parents don’t need child care right now because they are either not working or working from home, this is the situation at many daycares and preschools.
“Enrollment has been affected dramatically,” said Mesa Verde Preschool Director Christina Guerrero. “We would have anywhere from 45 to 50 children a day. Now, we’re down to 10 preschoolers, two toddlers and three infants a day.”
Guerrero said she has had to let go of almost half of her staff. Fortunately, there are still some children in their care, like 18-month-old Lily.
Lily’s mom, Allyssa Van Hooser is a licensed therapist and considered an essential worker.
“As essential workers…it’s a little scary because the thought of if the daycare closes, how much life is going to change for all of us,” Van Hooser said.
Van Hooser said Lilly is at Mesa Verde Monday through Friday while her 6-year-old son, Weston, is at home.
“He alternates between myself, his biological father and his stepfather. Luckily all three of us are able to take at least one, one and half days off, and that’s hard enough. If Lily was home, it would be a completely different story so we’re really grateful she has a place to go,” Van Hooser said.
At private preschools like Tutor Time, the district manager said they’ve had to furlough some teachers and staff but they are doing what they can to help the people who need them the most.
“We have been marshaling our resources to not only keep our folks safe but also provide that opportunity for first responders and essential folks to drop off their kids,” said Learning Care Group District Manager Scott Edmiston.
Edmiston and Guerrero said they’re going the extra mile to keep the children and staff safe.
“We have a lot of hand washing going on around here. We’re taking people’s temperatures as they come in. We’re trying to make sure they’re social distancing…not only for our kids but for our parents as well,” said Edmiston.
“It’s very difficult to keep children six feet apart. We do our best but as long as they’re arms-length apart with each other,” said Christina Guerrero. “We just make sure everybody washes up.”
Guerrero hopes things will return to normal soon, and when it does, she believes her enrollment will go back up and her staff can return.