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 sees 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.
“Right now, it’s not recommended as safe for child under the age of two to wear masks,” Norbut Beyer said. She acknowledged there may be issues with requiring toddlers to wear them.
While the CDC recommends that children over the age of two wear masks, Norbut Beyer says 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,” Nobert Beyer said. “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 know file 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 expected 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 gives kids the “opportunity to make memories.” He also cited mental health benefits, and an outlet 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,” the governor said. “It’s not the reason we're doing it, but it is a side benefit from it.”
The state has not been 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 said. “They’ve suggested this would give us a better, broader footprint and a better social distancing reality.”
Murphy agreed with the stance of over 55 communities exhibiting caution opening their pools and clubhouses, although he said he did so without morbidity.
“I don't have the number at 55, but 65 and up continues to represent 79.5% of the fatalities," Murphy said. “The caution continues to be advised as it’s devastating for older folks.”
“Vulnerable communities, long-term care is an example of that; folks with comorbidities, communities of color, density, all of that creates, sadly, are all a petrie dish for this "virus," the governor said.