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Parents Struggling With Childcare When COVID-19 Closes Daycares

O'HARA TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) - Daycare centers are doing everything they can to stay open, but even those that are have new regulations and stressed out parents to deal with.

It's a truly vicious cycle. One COVID case can shut down an entire daycare room. That means an entire group of parents need to keep their little ones home, but still keep paying to keep their spot.

For mom Casey Warren, Tuesday brought some much-needed sanity.

"Today was her first day back and I'm just so happy she's back because these past two weeks, I mean we're stuck in the house, we're quarantining," she said. "People in my company had the same situation. I mean we were on a Zoom call yesterday and there were like four kids."

Her 2-year-old attends a daycare in the South Hills. It sent the little ones home to quarantine for 10 days.

North of the city, A Place to Grow Daycare director Nicole Bush feels fortunate she didn't yet close down.

"We have closed classrooms and it's basically if one person tests positive, whether it be a staff member or a child, because social distancing is nearly impossible with children 5 and under," said Bush.

With 160 kids and 45 staff members, Bush feels like she's always emailing or on the phone with the health department, asking for guidance. A Place to Grow follows CDC guidelines, but Bush feels forgotten.

"These guidelines, they're not really geared specifically towards children, so to say that a 5-year-old can have the same quarantine procedure as an adult, that's where I wish sometimes, we had something more clear cut -- a firm set of rules," she said.

KDKA's Meghan Schiller asked Bush why many daycares still expect parents to pay.

"We are having them pay because then we are paying our staff when they're off. We want to keep that staff and we also don't want our staff to come to work sick and in childcare, you're underpaid compared to teachers in elementary and secondary schools," she said.

Plus, Bush says if she loses them, there's no finding a replacement. It's something moms like Warren understand.

"It's tough. It's tough to keep your 2-year-old entertained all day. It really is. I give those employees so much credit for what they do," she said.

The Pennsylvania Health Department referred KDKA to the Department of Human Services. The office sent guidance last updated in November. KDKA was told it does not reflect the shortened quarantine guidelines, which are dropped from 10 days to 5 days.

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