Some daycares reopening with new safety measures, others remain closed

Daycares and preschools are among the businesses struggling to bounce back after the coronavirus shutdowns.

A Melbourne daycare is working extra hard to gain confidence back, and even attract new families.

The national numbers tell of an industry in jeopardy. A study by Procare Solutions reports that 61% of childcare centers fully closed during the height of the pandemic.  Right now, less than half, or 46% of those centers, have reopened, the same report cites.

Jellybean Junction in Melbourne is among the surviving facilities.  Denise Bergman is the owner.

"Currently, enrolled I have 142, but I have a capacity of 219," she explains.

Bergman says when her preschool reopened, there was a wave of new clients trying to get their kids enrolled. The number of parents who were working from home but are now being summoned back to the office is rebounding.

Bergman says the protocol outlined by the Florida Department of Children and Families is being followed. She is not allowing parents into the building, and there are daily health checks before the kids can go inside. At night, the janitor at the Jellybean Junction uses disinfectant on all of the surfaces.  Additionally, children’s books emphasize the need for handwashing and clean habits.

"My goal is to make sure that my parents can get to work," Bergman says.  "We need our community to get back on its feet, and my goal is to make sure that my children are happy and safe."

Officials say Brevard County has not been a COVID-19 hotspot, so parents are less worried in communities along the Space Coast than in other parts of the state and country. However, a recent national survey finds 63% of parents are “somewhat or very uncomfortable” about bringing their children to preschools or daycares. Bergman says she’s had a lot of those conversations with parents.

"We have these COVID precautions in place," she adds. "We’re doing the best we can. We ask that you please follow suit, if your child is sick, keep them home."

Bergman says operating costs are going up a bit because of all of the gloves and hand sanitizer needed. As of right now, she hasn’t raised tuition costs and she hopes that she doesn’t have to, but that is a consideration for all child care providers.