Returning to Childcare: What the Data & Science Tell Us

Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, information about the coronavirus, how it was transmitted, and what activities were safe seemed to change on a weekly or even daily basis. Now, many months in, we have the benefit of scientific studies to shed light on what we can do and how we can do it safely. For parents, sending young children to preschool or daycare is a fundamental component of their daily routine and one of the first steps to begin the return to normalcy.


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Why Daycare and Preschool Matter

There are tremendous educational, social, and emotional benefits for sending young children to school or daycare. Early learning is primarily hands-on and challenging to replicate in a virtual environment. Toddlers and preschoolers learn by actively engaging with others and require physical proximity to peers to learn and grow. For families, the financial livelihood of working parents depends on the availability of childcare. In short, childcare and preschool are truly essential services.


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What We Have Learned 

Recognizing the importance of in-person learning for our youngest children and how childcare underpins the economic well-being of communities, many European countries have prioritized keeping preschool and primary schools open throughout recent months and have not had major outbreaks within schools. One study out of Spain looking at the effect of school openings on case numbers found that schools remaining open did not lead to any kind of significant increases.

Recent research published in the Journal Pediatrics surveyed 57,000 childcare providers and found that those who continued working did not have greater rates of infection than those who did not. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota recently summed up the emerging trends in the New York Times: “The data is becoming more compelling that there is very limited transmission in day care and grade schools.”


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Going Forward 

Given all that has been learned about how to mitigate the spread of the virus and models for schools and daycares to open safely, many daycare and childcare centers have integrated health and safety procedures into their routines. Contrary to initial thinking, educators, practitioners, and researchers have found that young children are actually more likely to follow many of these measures as compared to older students or even adults, especially when in a structured, social setting like that of a school or daycare. Childcare centers have every reason to go above and beyond to ensure the safety of students and staff. The experience, research, and data tell us that a safe return to daycare or preschool is possible.

If you are interested in finding a safe school for your child, you can visit PreK.com and search for centers near you. On the search results page, you’ll see PreK.com Member Schools featured with a note about their new health and safety protocols. And, as always, if you have any questions, you can reach out to any of our Family Advisers directly by emailing FamilyAdviser@PreK.com, or calling us at 877-PreK-Now (877)-773-5669.