COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Many Georgia parents take their children to child care centers so they can work. But during the pandemic many day cares closed, or parents were afraid to take their children there.
A new study finds that child care centers are not spreading COVID-19 to adults.
“Everything came to a screaming halt like it was, it’s crazy. It was insanity,” said Cobb County mother of four girls, Anisha Perry.
Life got crazy for her when Georgia went into lockdown in March. She kept her daughter Isabelle, 4, out of Bells Ferry Learning Center until August.
“We were talking with Bells Ferry and they let us know some of the things that they have put in place like just as simple as them putting the UV light inside the air system to clean out the air,” Perry said.
Shelby Dobson of Marietta sent her son Axl, 4, back to Bells Ferry Learning Center after he attended her work’s temporary day care for one week.
“But I mean did you still have a little bit of nervousness in you just sending him back?” Channel 2′s Michael Seiden asked.
“Oh yeah, absolutely. Because you’re a mom only you feel like you can take care of your child the way you want your child to be taken care of. But I instilled a lot of trust in them and I could see what they were doing. They were doing a lot of changes,” Dobson said.
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Bells Ferry Learning Center does curbside drop-off and checks the children’s temperatures before letting them into the building in addition to following CDC guidelines to prevent COVID-19.
“Well, in two centers we’ve had zero cases at one of them and the other center we just had our first case in late September so, we went almost seven months without it,” said Sharon Foster, the owner of Bells Ferry Learning Centers and the President of the Georgia Child Care Association.
Foster worked with the Georgia Department of Public Health and deep cleaned the classrooms.
“The good news is no one else contracted the virus. It was one child and his parent. So, that tells me that it came from outside of our center because no one else in our environment got sick,” Foster said.
A new Yale University study looked at 57,000 child care providers in Georgia and across the United States.
“We found no relationship whatsoever between attending a child care program as an adult, working there and your risk of getting COVID-19,” said William Gilliam, a Yale University Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, who led the study.
That’s good news for moms.
“It was like an elephant was off my chest. I know my child was not going to be as in danger per se,” Dobson said.
It’s also good news for day care owners.
“It was great news for us as child care providers. You know we’re well-trained in infectious disease control and we stepped up our game when the pandemic hit,” Foster said.
While day cares are a success story, Gilliam said there are key differences between them and grade kindergarten through 12 schools.
“In a child care program a small group of children come in and then they stay with pretty much the same adult all day long in the same group,” Gilliam said.
But in middle and high schools, students move around a lot.
Foster said that currently in Georgia 1,000 out of roughly 4,000 day cares are still closed. Many parents are looking for child care now.
“And choose child care that is licensed, that is regulated, that is following the COVID recommended guidelines in your community,” said Rhian Allvin, the CEO of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
The study brings peace of mind to many parents.
“I felt a little bit relieved because I was like, ‘OK so the kids will be alright.’ That’s the biggest thing. The kids will be alright. The kids are OK,” Perry said.
Gilliam is currently studying what specifically day cares are doing that is working well to prevent the virus from spreading.
Researchers are looking at things such as day cares' smaller group sizes, hand-washing, disinfecting and mask wearing.
He hopes to have the results in late November or December.