NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Day care centers across New York City are finally preparing to open their doors Monday as the city continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, and parents and children are gearing up for yet another return to normalcy.
But even with all the added precautions being taken and guidance from the city's Board of Health, many are still concerned for the safety of employees and families alike.
The plan, which allows 3,000 childcare centers across the five boroughs to reopen, doesn't have everyone's full support. But childcare is a necessary addition to getting people back to work.
"It's been really, really tough for parents," Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this week. "So bringing back childcare is crucial."
The mayor said the Board of Health had been looking at the facts and data on how to reopen childcare centers both properly and safely, and the following state regulations will be implemented:
--No more than 15 children in a room
--Face coverings required for children (except those under 2) and adults
--Daily health screenings
--Frequent cleaning and disinfecting
--Limited sharing of toys and supplies
There will be an emphasis on social distancing and more playing with the children outside when and where possible.
The Katmint Learning Initiative in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn has been busy, and children and families should expect changes.
"We're going to ask them a series of questions," founder and executive director Andre Farrell said. "There was not any specific guidance provided by the Department of Health. We took it upon ourselves to be extremely proactive."
Farrell brought in health experts to train staff and teachers, like Deborah Roesch.
"Our sanitation has to be on point to begin with," she said. "We have to wear gloves with all service of food, diaper, all bathroom."
Clear partitions will try to limit particle spread at desks.
"Once the students are here, we definitely be coaching them, what is this, what is it's purpose?" Director of Operations Neidylin Vega said.
Katmint expects 20 students to return, a third of the pre-pandemic enrollment after many families moved away or just aren't ready. But those that do are being welcomed back with open arms, from a distance.
"We really love these kids and what we do," Roesch said. "And we really missed it, looking forward to going back."
The mayor said there have been a lot of conversations between the board and childcare providers over the recent weeks, but some say the plan is poorly thought out.
Medina Khalil is one of about 80 private day care operators who formed the Brooklyn Coalition of Early Childhood Programs because they say City Hall won't take their calls. She said they did not have a seat at the table, and all the decisions were made around them.
"There's an element of trust that's just not there, because of the haphazard way in which we were closed," said Sonja Neill-Turner, with Brooklyn Sandbox. "And now it feels like it's applying again to the haphazard way we are reopening."
Neill-Turner pointed out that indoor dining was canceled for this phase, so she isn't sure why day cares should be allowed to reopen.
Meanwhile, cleaning, new outdoor gear, and materials all cost money -- and some providers say their razor thin budgets are about to be stretched even further.
"We were not given guidance as to what equipment we need so that we could've, A, saved for it, B, hoarded it ahead of time," said Fabiola Santos-Gaerlan, with Honeydew Childcare. "Because right now, 3,000 programs in this city alone will order these things. They're going to run out."
Many say a Monday reopening is out of the question, and that it will take at least two months to get it right.
The city says 12 childcare programs have been up and running for essential workers' kids since April.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE
abc7NY Phase Tracker:
How to prevent 'Mask-Ne' aka Mask Acne