New York City’s Board of Health voted on Tuesday to approve the reopening of 3,000 daycare centers beginning next week.
The unanimous vote rescinded an April 3 order shuttering care centers, with exception of home-run daycare centers and emergency daycare centers for essential workers, across the city to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Only about 25 childcare programs have been up and running since April.
During the virtual board meeting, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Environmental Health Corrine Schiff recommended that the board vote to reopen daycare centers given the virus slowed transmission rate in the city and decline in new infections.
On July 5, 58 people were admitted to a city public hospital with possibly COVID-19 symptoms and 2% of New York City residents tested positive for the virus, according to the mayor’s office.
Schiff urged board members to consider the number of parents returning the workforce as the city continues to progress through the state’s coronavirus reopening phases.
On Monday, up to 400,000 people returned to the workforce as the city launched into phase 3 of reopening which included the reopening of personal care services like hair salons, nail salons, and spa services along with dog runs, basketball, volleyball, bocce, tennis and handball courts.
The Staten Island Ferry’s rush hour service also returned as a part of Phase 3.
“They may turn to informal care if regulated programs remain closed,” Schiff told board members.
Schiff assured board members that the state emailed city daycare centers concerning the state-mandated coronavirus mitigation rules. As a part of their reopening, daycare centers would not be allowed to have more than 15 children per room.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, Mayor de Blasio said that to mitigate the spread of the virus staff and children would be given face coverings, centers would be frequently cleaned and implement daily health screening.
If a child or daycare staff member does test positive for the virus, parents and guardians will be contacted by a member of the city’s test and trace corps and asked about close contacts so that they can be notified to seek testing and stay home for 14 days, Schiff said.
“ This decision is rooted in health as well as equity. Data show that white and wealthy parents are more likely to have job flexibility or to hire independent caregivers, while these options may not be the same for Black, Brown and low-income families,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement shortly after the vote.”We don’t want any New Yorker to have to choose informal or illegal child care; every child deserves a safe place where they can learn and grow.”
Childcare centers are not mandated to open on July 13, but can open at that time if they are ready.