CLEVELAND (WJW)– Childcare providers across Ohio will be allowed to reopen on May 31, but there is growing concern that new mandatory guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic could force some to close for good.
“They’ll be a lot of centers across the state that will get wiped out by this,” said David Smith, executive director of Horizon Education Centers and president of the Ohio Association of Childcare Providers. “It’s going to be a huge struggle for everybody.“
One of the new mandatory guidelines limits the number of children to six infants and toddlers per room, and nine school-age children per room.
“The maximum we’re going to have is 780 kids and usually we have between 1,600 and 2,000, so that’s a big big drop,” said Smith.
Ohio leaders committed to using $60 million in Federal Cares Act funding to help subsidize the difference, but Smith said it still won’t be enough. He said they’re a non-profit and, even with the grant money, Horizon’s 12 centers will still lose between $20,000 and $30,000 per month.
Some of the centers that are part of OACCP already said they’re delaying reopening in hopes that state leaders will rethink the number limits.
Smith said they are more than willing to follow the new rules that include things like temperature checking everyone before entering the building, rigorous hand washing and sanitizing everything after kids touch it. He said childcare providers were already following 794 health and hygiene regulations before COVID-19.
“The childcare centers in Ohio are safe,” Smith said. “We’re a heavily-regulated industry, and we’re just gonna have faith and hope that things work out.”