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New York City Child Care Centers Reopen, But Some Parents Seem Reluctant To Return

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Child care centers across New York City are back in business for the first time since being shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As CBS2's Christina Fan reported Monday, parents were still a little apprehensive about sending their children back.

Inside Arcadia Children's Daycare in the Bronx, educational director Sue Sussman has tried making the classroom COVID-19-proof. Colorful circles on the ground teach toddlers about social distancing, and shared toys are locked away in storage.

But judging by her empty classroom, the precautions haven't been enough to ease fears.

"People are holding back a little more, because it's still here. But, of course, it's going to go on, we know in reality, really months more," Sussman told Fan.

On a typical day, she usually sees about 20 drop-offs. On Monday, there was just one.


Arcadia is one of roughly 3,000 child care programs that were allowed to reopen Monday in New York City after being closed for months. Katmint Learning initiative in Bedford Stuyvesant is another.

"A lot of these families have been completely quarantined, just them, haven't seen anybody. For the child today, today was a big deal for them," Katmint's Neidlylin Vaga said.

While the news is welcome for many parents who are desperate to get to work, others say they just aren't ready.

"I just didn't feel comfortable safety-wise and I didn't want to put that pressure on the day care people," one father from Brooklyn said.

"Some parents say, 'Oh great, I hope to send my child soon, because I have a lot of shopping and I want to go to work,'" said Sussman. "Some other parents said maybe they'll keep them home a little bit longer and then maybe a little later in the summer come in."

The state implemented strict guidelines for reopening:

  • No more than 15 children are allowed in a room
  • All staff are required to wear face masks
  • Children and staff must have daily health screenings
  • Surfaces must be sanitized throughout the day

"If a child has watery eyes or is sneezing and coughing, they're going to have to take them home temporarily and check with their doctor," Sussman said.

To reassure parents, many programs have added additional precautions like shoe coverings and individual pencil boxes. Instructors say it's important they make families feel safe.

"Without child care programs, how can New York City parents go back to work and resume their positions?" Vaga said.

The Health Department said if a child tests positive for coronavirus, everyone in that classroom will be notified and asked to quarantine for two weeks.

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