When the CDC issued guidance to cleaning schools, business, community centers and other public places as our communities shuttered as part of the COVID-19 response, child care in Missouri was not part of that conversation. The slow drip of information which helped businesses prepare for the COVID-19 response—from how to clean, to buying and wearing masks, to reducing working hours, and how to enact physical social distancing—was given to various industry groups. But child care workers were left to fend for themselves. There was no preparation provided to them—leaving child care educators forgotten, angry, and ill-prepared for a rapidly changing environment.
Some were forced to close. Those who have remained open have adapted on the fly—buying cleaning supplies with their own money, spacing out play areas, reducing the number of children they are able to serve, and adjusting pick-up and drop-off times. Child care programs are the backbone of the COVID-19 response, and deserve the respect that all professional business owners are receiving.