Ohio daycares operating on pandemic license only beginning Thursday

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Beginning Thursday, daycare centers across Ohio will need a special “pandemic” license in order to legally operate.

Governor Mike DeWine says it is a way to provide childcare options to essential employees while they are required to work.

“Those essential workers have to go to work, right. we need doctors and nurses and nursing home attendants to be at work and they need somewhere for their kid to be safe during the day and we’ll be able to provide those services,” said Ana Thomas, Vice President of Youth Development for the Greater Cleveland YMCA.

The Lakewood Family YMCA is preparing to reopen Thursday with fewer children in its daycare center and under new regulations.

“As of midnight tonight, typical child care under the regular license is being shut down by the governor’s office and then we applied for a special pandemic license to make sure we could continue serving just those essential workers starting tomorrow,” Thomas said.

Under the new regulations, essential workers, such as healthcare workers and first responders get priority, but there can be no more than six children in one room.

“Making sure that we’ve thought about using cones and hula hoops and visual cues to remind young people about where their bodies should be, thinking about putting chairs at six feet away to have snacks or to do art projects, really thinking about that physical distancing,” she said.

Thomas says hand washing and sanitizing surfaces will be top of mind for children and staff members.  She says due to the increased restrictions, there will be fewer available slots.

“Approximately, being able to serve 108 to 114 young people…the YMCA on a typical day was serving 800,” said Thomas.

Sunday, the Governor tweeted that the number of kids in daycare, subsidized by Ohio had gone down dramatically from 117,000 kids to 17,000.

He did not have stats on private daycares.

“We want to show up to those families who are in a tough spot right now…We want to make sure that we’re there for the frontline workers so that they can do what they need to keep our community safe,” Thomas said.

Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted says a daycare worker would be eligible for unemployment if they are not able to re-open.  They are also eligible for small business disaster assistance.

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