Child Care to Reopen May 31 in Ohio; Gyms and Pools May 26

Updated: 3:15 p.m. | Additional information
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Child care providers will be permitted to reopen on May 31, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday.

During his daily briefing, the governor and Joni Close, president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, outlined the changes that will be effected for the reopening. Over the last few weeks, DeWine’s administration had been working with pediatricians, caregivers, children’s hospital representatives and other child-care experts, as well as parents in formulating a plan for the reopening, he said.

“We do not have really any great data in regard to child care and COVID-19,” DeWine said. “While there is information, certainly best practices in regard to any spread of the virus in child care … but as far as COVID-19, there is not a whole lot of information out there.

“We intend to rectify that,” he continued.

In order to provide the safest child care possible, some of the practices will look different on May 31.

Starting with the drop off of children, providers will wear masks when greeting children and their parents outside of the building, and some may likely ask parents to wear masks at the time of drop off, Close said. Daily temperature checks of the children will be routine and anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or more will be sent home, she said.

Children will wash their hands before entering the building and will be escorted to their classroom by someone other than their parents. Classroom sizes will be reduced to nine for preschool to school-age children, and six for infants and toddlers, Close said.

Field trips are prohibited this year, but playground and outdoor activities are permitted with proper sanitation of play equipment between groups.

“Cleaning is the word of the day,” Close said. “Child care providers will be cleaning toys after each use, wiping down surfaces and any common areas.”

Child care centers will also have to undergo “rigorous cleaning” at the end of each day.

Handwashing will be routine as well, between activities, play time and meals. Kids will be required to wash their hands before they leave, and parents can help by getting their kids used to doing that at home, Close said.

“We know that these changes will be unusual and maybe a little uncomfortable for some families and children,” she said. “But we’re doing our best to be confident that these measures will keep everyone safe.”

DeWine stressed there is “no playbook” for reopenings during a pandemic, be it child care or other things opening this week. The state will continue to monitor child care centers moving forward, and “we may make changes as we go forward. We are starting this off, we think, on the right foot.” he said.

As more information comes in, the guidelines for child care may continue to evolve. Throughout the pandemic, the state is starting a research project to study best practices for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in child care settings.

“This study will make Ohio, I think, a leader in reopening child care and how we conduct child care,” DeWine said. “As we gather more data from the study, it will continue to inform our decisions. There will be things that we learn as we move forward.”

Because child care providers will have “more difficult standards to meet” as they reopen, the state is committing more than $60 million in federal CARES Act funding to pay Ohio child care providers, family care centers, and publicly funded and private providers “to help fund the safety measures and reduced class sizes,” DeWine said.

Click here for guidelines on the Child Care industry.

While child care centers are permitted to open, it “doesn’t mean that they will open,” said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. All sectors being given reopen dates aren’t required to open on those dates, he said. The only restrictions from the state regarding reopenings are that the sectors A) cannot shorten the time from now till reopening, and B) cannot lessen the standards put in place.

Husted identified a list of other reopenings this month, including gyms, fitness centers and noncontact-related sports, as well as public swimming pools and club pools. Those facilities can reopen May 26 while implementing guidance that will be posted to Coronavirus.ohio.gov later Thursday.

“There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas,” Husted said, reading from CDC guidelines. “Proper operation and maintenance including disinfection with chlorine and bromine of these facilities should inactivate the virus in water.”

Husted clarified that the reopening applies to pools regulated by local health departments, such as public pools and those in clubs. It doesn’t apply to water parks and amusement parks, he said.

“Those will not be allowed to open under this guidance,” Husted said. “Those are regulated differently. And those are being addressed through our travel and tourism workgroup.”

Noncontact sports include golf, softball, baseball, tennis and others, as well as activities such as Frisbee, corn hole and bocce. Guidance for restarting those sports and activities is also forthcoming later today.

A separate workgroup is working on guidance for higher contact sports and other activities that present their own particular challenges, such as gymnastics, Husted noted.

“These protocols are designed to allow us to do the things we love while also keeping our loved ones safe,” he said.

Other openings include:

  • Campgrounds, May 21: Many are already open with restrictions, but they will be allowed to open completely while following guidance posted to the state’s coronavirus website. Click here for guidelines.
  • Horse racing, May 22: Guidance is established by the horse racing workgroup and the Ohio State Racing Commission. It does not permit the reopening of casinos or racinos. Spectators are prohibited at horse racing events.
  • Bureau of Motor Vehicles, May 26: Deputy registrar offices of the Ohio BMV are permitted to reopen. License and registration extensions provided under H.B. 197 are still in effect and Ohioans will not need to immediately renew them. “And frankly, we don’t want you do unless you have to,” Husted said. He recommended using Oplates.com for online services, such as vehicle registration, plate replacements, scheduling a driving test, updating addresses, paying a license reinstatement fee, etc.
  • Day camps, May 31: Protocols and ratios for day camps will be posted to the state’s coronavirus website by the end of Friday.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.