Kentucky plans phased child-care reopenings in June

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky plans phased reopenings of child-care centers next month in what’s seen as an important catalyst to help jump start an economy stagnated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Providers caring for 10 or fewer children will be allowed to restart on June 8, state Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said Thursday. Those initial reopenings will mostly cover small- scale, in-home providers, he said.

Larger, center-based child-care providers will be allowed to resume a week later on June 15, he said.

Providers will face a series of guidelines meant to protect children and staff. The resumption of childcare for working parents is seen as critical to reopening the economy, Friedlander said.

“It’s really good news that we are at the point where we feel like we can … begin to open up child care in a responsible manner,” he said.

Temperature and wellness checks will be required before entering child-care centers, he said. Family events at the centers and field trips should be postponed for now, Friedlander said.

Centers should have centralized places for child drop offs and pickups and stagger playground time. Children should be put in groups of 10 or fewer, and groups of youngsters and staff should stay together throughout the day to limit contacts, he said.

Adults and older children who are able need to wear masks, Friedlander said. Children 5 or younger should not wear masks, he said.

“It’s a judgment call on a child’s developmental ability and making sure that you’re making the right call on safety for that particular child,” he said. “As children are able, they should wear masks.”

Childcare has been extremely limited during the virus outbreak. Since late March, YMCAs and some other licensed providers in Kentucky have been allowed to care for the children of essential workers in health and emergency care, corrections officers and community service workers.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that auctions will be allowed to resume on June 1, followed by horse shows on June 8. He announced a June 29 target for reopening bars and for allowing gatherings of 50 or fewer, with conditions to guard against spreading the virus.

“That is a new update, based on the numbers that we’re seeing right now, that we think will be responsible and that we can hit it at that time,” Beshear said at his daily briefing. “It all depends on how good we do at being healthy at work. But we want to give people those dates to see and to work toward.”

Meanwhile, Beshear reported 10 additional virus-related deaths, raising the state’s death count to at least 386 since the pandemic began. Forty deaths were reported in the past three days.

He also reported 135 more coronavirus cases in Kentucky, increasing the statewide total to more than 8,280 cases. The state surpassed 3,000 people who have recovered from the virus, he said.

Acknowledging the recent upswing in deaths while virus cases have plateaued even as testing has expanded, Beshear said: “What we’re seeing around the country is you see your number of cases go down, but your number of deaths peak a little bit later than that.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, even death.

Associated Press file photo

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