TRENTON, NJ – Day care centers for the children of essential workers have been opened throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As Governor Phil Murphy announced yesterday, they reopen to other parents on June 15.  Within the next few weeks, non-contact sports activities and youth day camps also may open up. What does all this mean? What about pools?

Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, Christine Norbut Beyer, offered insight as to what she foresees going forward as day care centers reopen. The focus will be on establishing health and safety standards in accordance with the CDC and other health organizations. Resources for Licensed Childcare Providers are already posted on the Department’s website.

Standards put in place for day care centers and camps may well set the stage when it comes to reopening of schools. Among other things, parents have expressed concerns about social distancing and the requirements for children to wear masks.

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“Right now, it’s not recommended as safe for child under the age of two to wear masks,” saidBeyer, who acknowledged there may be issues with requiring toddlers to wear them.

While the CDC recommends that children over the age of two wear masks, Beyer said her department will be talking with childcare providers concerning youngsters who want to remove them while they are in their care. It is not recommended that little ones taking naps wear masks during their naps.

“We are concerned with staff touching them and replacing the masks, which could be riskier,” Beyer shared. “This may come down to individual children and whether they have the capacity to keep them on.”

Day care centers that plan to reopen need to let the Office of Licensing by filing an attestation indicating that they will follow the safety protocols in place for New Jersey's childcare centers.

The Department also plans to send out inspectors to the centers that plan to open. Summer camps will also be required to adhere to the same standards. Residential and sleep away camps are prohibited from opening in the state.

According to Murphy, one of the benefits of summer camps and sports reopening is that they give kids the “opportunity to make memories.” He also cited mental health benefits as well as serving as outlets for children who might be exposed to potential abuse at home.

“We’re going to learn an amount fairly quickly about what's working and what's not working as it relates to our war-gaming back to school,” said the governor. “It’s not the reason we're doing it, but it is a side benefit from it.”

The state has not made a decision as far as reopening community pools and says it has become a challenging issue. Some municipalities have asked the state to hold off on opening them, citing the “intensity of interaction.”

“A couple of the shore mayors have said that if we want to get more geography to spread people over, we might want to do so in a club or near the beach.” Murphy shared. “They’ve suggested this would give us a better, broader footprint and a better social distancing reality.”

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