Reopening child care facilities helps ease crisis 'exacerbation'
Fredericksburg’s child care crisis took a toll during the coronavirus pandemic.
“One of the major challenges we are experiencing in our workforce continues to be the lack of child care services,” City Manager Kent Myers said in an email. “This challenge has certainly been exacerbated with COVID-19.”
With the opening of some facilities and likely more after Gov. Greg Abbott’s Phase 2 executive order passed Monday, things might start to get back to normal.
Bethany Preschool opened Monday for essential employees, and Office Manager Joyce Richey said while the team was thrilled to open this week, it’s been tough with the extra rules and extra needed staff.
The staff must pick up children at the door and check temperatures. Parents are not allowed inside.
Parents have to fill out forms to prove they’re essential workers and complete a COVID-19 health policy form.
Once the children are inside, they must stay in their respective classrooms. Richey said monitoring this can be a struggle.
“It is harder,” Richey said. “We have to have two teachers in a room at a time, so that means we need extra staff throughout the day.”
Since it takes more time to set up, Richey said Bethany Preschool has adjusted its hours to 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Richey understands how tough this has been on parents.
“They’ve been pressed to the limit,” Richey said. “Some parents were able to stay home, but most were still having to do a full-time job, take care of their kids, make sure their kids are fed and, if they have kids in the Fredericksburg Independent School District, they’ve also had to do homeschooling.”
Richey said the preschool has made it a priority to keep parents informed.
“Our board is meeting every two weeks instead of once a month to address the situation,” Richey said. “We want to let them know that while we do want to open, we want it to be a safe environment for everyone.”
Jennifer Weaver, director of Billie Kids Day Care said its been upsetting not to be able to help nonessential employees, but she’s trying to keep them informed as much as possible.
“I’m just telling them to hang in there and that this will hopefully be over soon,” Weaver said. “I try to contact them once a week about what are plans are.”
Myers released an update on which child care facilities are closed and when they might reopen. Each facility’s update and rules are listed below.
• Bethany Preschool, 110 W. Austin St. — Opened Monday, May 18 for children of essential employees only. Additional slots were added May 18. At this time, all slots are filled.
Beginning next week, the preschool will open up for children of nonessential employees.
The preschool will open for its summer camp on June 1. Abbott's recent order allows for camps to begin at the end of the month.
• Billie Kids Day Care, 426 W. Main St. — The facility’s projected opening date is June 1 for essential employees. There will be no community enrollment until further notice. Employees hope to continue with their summer program. Enrollment for Billie Kids Day Care is open Monday through Friday for essential employees only.
• Fredericksburg Community Preschool, 711 S. Eagle St. — The preschool opened to essential employees only on May 11. There is limited enrollment with only eight students allowed in a classroom. Total enrollment at this time is 48 and all slots are full.
• Bluebird Beginnings, 1208 N. Milam St. — Bluebird Beginnings is open only for children of essential workers at this time and parents must show proof. Employers say they are taking all precautions at this time, as they are checking children’s temperature and sanitizing upon arrival, wearing masks during pickup and drop off and asking parents to do the same, and preventing parents from entering the facility. No children or adults have been reported having the virus.
• Kindernest Montessori School, 113 E. San Antonio St. — The school can now serve all families after Abbott's recent executive order.