CHICAGO (CBS) — As the state gets closer to opening, parents are getting ready to head back to work, but that leaves a lingering question: Who will watch the kids? It’s a concern especially when summer camps are cancelled, too.
CBS 2’s Marissa Parra found there is also confusion at child care centers over what they need to do to reopen. A lot of them feel they are in limbo and are afraid they won’t have enough time to prepare. So far, under phases one and two, Gov. JB Pritzker said more than 2,500 daycares in the state have been operating under an emergency license.
“Nobody has a clue what’s going on,” said Azra Hodzik, director and owner of West Town Daycare, which is operating under an emergency license to care for children of essential workers.
The state is gearing up to move into phase three next week.
“Hairdressers need child care. Restaurant owners need child care,” Hodzik said. “Child care isn’t addressed until stage four, but a lot of people are going back to work.”
Hodzik gave CBS 2 a virtual tour of the daycare, showing how things have changed since the virus.
“We separate them to two at a table, so there’s enough space between them,” she said.
Under phases one and two the rules for the daycare centers that are open are strict. Parents have to drop off and pick up in the lobby. They, along with staff and kids, get temperature checks.
Before the pandemic, West Town Daycare had 51 kids. Hodzik can now have only 12, and they aren’t all allowed to be in the same room together.
“Absolutely impossible to keep 2 and 3-year-olds six feet from each other,” she said.
Add trying to get a toddler to wear a mask to the equation.
So the question is: What changes for daycare centers next week, if anything?
“It’s just like this huge disconnect between the governor’s office and the state agencies,” Hodzik said. “No one really knows.”
Illinois phase three says “limited child care” is possible, but Hodzik says that’s too vague.
“The childcare centers that are closed right now, they don’t know if they get to reopen next week,” she said.
Regardless of the answer, she and other daycare employees in the state are hoping for some clarification and quick.
“Would be great to have some guidance,” she said. “The guidance is not there.”
A big lingering question is if “limited child care” is limited to those with emergency licenses and if daycares will have to renew those licenses.
Pritzker said Thursday that he is trying to walk a fine line between making sure our children are getting looked after and also keeping them safe since there is so much we don’t know yet about the virus. There is a task force getting guidance from IDPH, but employees are hoping for answers soon so they can have time to prepare.