Tri-Town childcare facilities to close for more than two weeks
Some childcare facilities in the Tri-Town had already closed for a week, on the same schedule as Old Rochester Regional High School initially announced for closures, but those that were still open will now have to close to most or all of their children, following March 18 orders from Governor Charlie Baker.
In a Wednesday announcement, the governor said that childcare facilities would close from Monday March 23 through April 6, the same end date that he set for statewide public and private school cancellations.
Volunteers and teachers will provide care for the children of medical workers and first responders. A limited number of childcare facilities will also stay open for these children.
Baker said that vulnerable children are exempt and said that the state will “work hard to make space for people who must go to work but aren't necessarily emergency personnel."
The state will continue to pay subsidies to child care providers that close so they can reopen when it is safe.
On March 14, Mattapoisett’s Lighthouse Learning Center wrote on Facebook that “during the uncertainty of the coronavirus we will remain open unless required to close, as per state regulators.”
Organizers added that “There is very low risk to children we serve here because of their young ages. Staff and children wash hands many times per day. We sanitize all surfaces and toys several times daily with bleach and water solution and provide hand sanitizer in each classroom and on our playgrounds.”
The facility also reminded parents of children to be strict in keeping students home if anyone in the family was sick.
As of March 16, the Mattapoisett childcare facility remained open, but asked families to take care of their own children at home if possible to “ease things on our end with staffing and the entire risk of this virus.”
When the state mandated that the childcare provider close, the owners Richard and Melanie Reilly of Mattapoisett wrote on Facebook that they would be open for one day on March 19, then close.
“My heart is breaking but I know this too shall pass,” the organization said on its Facebook page.
YMCA Southcoast had also been providing childcare, the sole service left after its gyms had closed. Its President, James Scherer, said that the organization was applying to care for the children of first responders and other essential personnel, but would otherwise close on March 23.
Several other Tri-Town childcare facilities, including the Loft School and Children’s Academy in Marion had already closed until March 20 and could not be reached for comment following the announcement.
Rochester’s Countryside Childcare was still open at the time of Baker’s pronouncement, but declined to comment to the press.