Childcare centers struggling to plan with school delays

Coronavirus

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Parents, students and teachers still don’t know what the first day of school will look like in Rhode Island, and childcare centers say the delay of school has led to even more frustration for their businesses.

Mary Varr, executive director of the Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association, says changing timelines and school plans leave her at a loss for what to tell parents who want to register their kids in fall programs.

“That’s what childcare is, it’s a support business for working parents and you just can’t give them a straight answer,” Varr said. “It’s a struggle to meet working parents needs. Our families need it, they need the routines, consistency. The parents that are here, are very thankful that we’re open.”

She added, “it’s very hard to communicate effectively with your staff, when the plans keep changing.”

Lara D’Antuono, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Warwick, says she was also waiting on a plan, but just got a final answer this week when the Warwick School committee voted Tuesday to reopen schools with distance learning.

“It now helps us plan,” D’Antuono said. “I tell my team all the time that there isn’t a mountain we can’t climb, we just need to know what the mountain is.”

She says because all parents can’t stay home, they have decided to incorporate distance learning into childcare.

“Our plan now is to open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and have full childcare,” she added. “Each pod in the morning will be spent on distance learning and we will have staff here to help the kids in their learning. We’ll have WiFi and technology if they need it and will support them through that. I am confident we can deliver this program safely.”

According to the new calendar sent to superintendents, the new last day of school is June 25.

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