By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Parents in states where day care centers have been allowed to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic face a new dilemma of whether to send their child back to day care or find a way to keep them at home.
“My emotional brain is telling me, ‘Well, geez, we need to we need to get our daughter back. She needs a structure,"” Dr. Gavin Harris, an internal medicine specialist and the father of a 5-year-old daughter, Siena, told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “And then the rational brain is also saying, ‘But like, hold on a second, we need to make sure we’re safe about this."”
Harris, of Pennsylvania, and his wife Candice have so far chosen to keep their daughter at home, deciding there is still too much unknown about the virus to make them feel comfortable enough to send her to day care.
Other parents have decided they will send their children to day care centers — many with no choice but to do so as offices reopen too — and experts say there are safety measures that parents should make sure their child care providers are taking.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that day care centers check the temperatures of children and staff daily, reduce class sizes and follow cleaning guidelines issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Each family also needs to assess their own risk when deciding whether or not to send children back to day care, experts say.
Initial data from the U.S. suggests that only 1.7% of positive COVID-19 cases are children, but the number of asymptomatic infections in children is unknown, according to JAMA Pediatrics, a journal of the American Medical Association (AMA).
“The big question is how many kids are asymptomatically infected? Are they bringing it home to their household?,” Anne Rimoin, an infectious disease expert at UCLA, told GMA. “There is a lot more research that really needs to be done.”
When deciding on a return to day care, parents should weigh the rate of transmission of coronavirus in their community, what new safety steps the day care is taking and whether their child or anyone in their household is at high risk for coronavirus complications due to underlying conditions, according to experts.
Parents may also be weighing whether it is safe to bring a child care provider into their own home, such as a nanny.
Care.com, an online platform for finding family care, has seen a triple-digit increase of families looking specifically for in-home care, according to the company’s CEO, Tim Allen.
“A lot of parents are thinking about ways they can actually make it more affordable,” Allen told GMA of at-home child care. “A lot of family members who very familiar with the exposure circles they’ve had, are starting to group together and do what we call nanny-sharing.”
Allen recommends that families and their caregivers put in writing the safety measures they plan to follow, such as wearing face masks and where they go and to whom they are exposed.
“If you’re going to be bringing in a caregiver on a regular basis into your home it’s perfectly acceptable for you to ask for them to follow the safest practices they can while they’re at home or while they’re not in your home,” said Allen. “And it goes both ways. Caregivers should be asking families what safety practices they’re following … they want to make sure they’re not being exposed.”
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