Coronavirus concerns impacting childcare enrollment

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)–Throughout the pandemic, many childcare centers have remained open, helping those who must continue to work. But as cases continue to rise, many parents are wondering if it’s safe for their children to be enrolled. Childcare centers in Bay County say enrollment is being impacted.

“The parents literally have no where to take their children. It’s one of the biggest problems in the area,” said Jeanie Krolikowski, the owner of Bay Kidz Academy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a strain on both childcare centers and parents. They’ve been forced to change their ratios, preventing them from taking in more children.

“We have a waitlist because we cannot increase our numbers for the safety of everyone,” said Tracy Anglin, the owner of First Step and Adventure Club.

Typically, First Step can accommodate 52 children, but now they can only accept 38-40.

“We may only have 2-3 children in each classroom but we have to keep it like that so if lord forbid somebody has been exposed, were not exposing all the classrooms,” said Anglin.

While some age groups may have waitlists, others have spots that just can’t be filled. Some parents are without work and simply don’t need child care. But some are too afraid to send their kids back.

“Right now I do have room for 1 year olds and I have had for 2 or 3 weeks whereas before all this there might have been 6 phone calls a day looking for a 1 year old,” said Krolikowski.

Both First Step and Bay Kidz Academy say they’re noticing a trend similar to what they saw in March.

“However, we are starting to see people get nervous again, we have had a few families saying ‘hey after July 4th, we’re gonna take another week off’,” said Anglin.

Bay Kidz Academy expects to have 1/3 of the children they have now come August as many of their children will graduate the VPK program or begin attending school.

Both day care centers are operating under strict sanitation guidelines to keep both the children and staff safe.

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