BOSTON — The announcement June 1 that day care centers can resume operation in phase two of the Massachusetts reopening was a relief to some families that have been struggling to balance child care with the demands of working from home.
But some families say the guidelines will make day cares less welcoming environments, and some day care operators say they go too far to be practical.
Day cares will have to comply with restrictions on class size and types of activities and comply with cleaning rules. A maximum of 10 children will be allowed in one room at a time, along with two adults, and the limit is even lower — seven — for infants 14 months or younger.
Day care centers also are required to promote physical distancing and limit the sharing of toys. Drop-off times must be staggered and parents will have to use one point of entry to drop off and pick up their children.
Alicia Randall normally sends her son Clark, 2, to Half Pints, a day care center in Tewksbury. Since the shutdown, she’s been watching Clark and working for Boston Scientific from home while her husband, Matthew, is out working as a contractor.
Although it’s been challenging to work while taking care of a toddler, she resists the idea of sending Clark back under the guidelines, particularly those about social distancing. She worries that children will get the wrong message about interacting with other people.
“They will be conditioned in no time to not go near you or not want to be eating next to you, and it’s just heartbreaking as a mother, as a human,” Randall said.
Randall said she has to talk to her son’s day care center before deciding whether she’ll send him back. She said she’s also written letters to the Department of Early Education and Care and the commissioner, in addition to signing petitions to try to change the guidelines.
“Truthfully, I’d rather lose my job than send him in such restrictions,” Randall said.
Lindsay McCluskey worries about the psychological impacts of the guidelines on her son, Julian, who is 3.
She and her husband, Matias Ramos, have both been working from home — she as deputy director at Community Labor United, and Ramos as the director of programs at Phillips Brooks House at Harvard University.