Is it safe to send your child back to daycare? Here's what the experts say

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Friday, June 26, 2020
Is it safe to send your child back to daycare? Here's what the experts say
Is it safe to send your child back to daycare? Here's what the experts say

There's a dilemma many families are facing as states reopen and parents go back to work -- is it safe to send your kids to daycare again?

Siena, 5, used to go to preschool but now her mom, Candice, is juggling work commitments while trying to care for her.

And dad, Gavin, is an infectious disease doctor who has been working at the hospital non-stop since the start of the pandemic.

Their need for child care is serious but so is their concern about the risk of coronavirus.

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"My emotional brain is telling me, we need to get our daughter back. She needs a structure to be able to continue learning and things like that," Gavin told ABC News. "And then the rational brain is also saying, but like, hold on a second, we need to make sure we're safe about this."

The first issue for parents is their child's safety.

The Pediatric Journal of the American Medical Association says the initial data from the U.S. suggests only 1.7 percent of positive COVID-19 cases are in children but the number of asymptomatic infections is unknown.

Mirroring that uncertainty, UCLA infectious disease expert Anne Rimoin says it's hard to assess the risk.

"The big question is how many kids are asymptomatically infected? Are they bringing it home to their household?" she asks. "There is a lot more research that really needs to be done"

Absent rigorous data, the American Academy of Pediatrics has provided best practices including social distancing but even their president acknowledges that "children are going to be hard to social distance in a daycare setting."

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Some changes the academy and the CDC are recommending include:

  • Check the temperature of the children and staff each day
  • Follow EPA guidelines for increased cleaning
  • Reduce class sizes

And childcare experts say these new procedures help.

"I think if they make sure that all the recommended precautions by the CDC are being taken, I think it is safe. I can't say that it doesn't mean that they will not get sick," said Cindy Lehnhoff, director of the National Child Care Association.

Still, there are many unknowns.

"We definitely don't feel comfortable that we would send our daughter to daycare," Gavin said. "And as someone who is deeply involved in our response and preparedness to this virus, it's very frustrating."

The decision is gut-wrenching even for the experts.