Even though children are less at-risk of showing symptoms of the virus, the rate at which they can transmit it to others is still uncertain, and many parents wonder whether it’s wise or not to allow their children to return to daycare.

Make sure that your daycare is taking the necessary precautions before taking your child back. This will keep your child, the other children, daycare employees, and yourself as safe as possible during the pandemic. If you’re struggling to decide on whether to send your child back to daycare, here are some questions and factors to consider:

Do you have the time and resources to keep your child at home? 

Childcare can be expensive, but forgoing a paycheck so you can care for your child can also strain your budget. If you’re the sole provider, staying home may not even be an option. Are there ways to work from home? Even if your company has requested that you physically come back to work, many useful resources out there provide tips on how you might be able to persuade your boss to let you do your job remotely.

Do you live with a person over 65? 

As you know, the elderly are at high-risk of COVID-19 and may catch the virus from your child even if your child is not showing any signs of infection. Be sure to consider whether other people in your household have conditions that can make them more vulnerable to the virus, such as respiratory conditions like asthma.

Does your community already have a high level of transmission? 

Even though states are slowly re-opening, some areas are struggling with virus containment more than others. Safety guidelines will vary by location, but it’s important everywhere to continue being cautious around group gatherings.

Is your daycare transparent about the health measures they’re implementing? 

Daycares should have a clear plan in place on safety measures like how often they’re disinfecting surfaces, what their mask policy will be, and their procedure for if a child starts showing COVID-19 symptoms. Ask your daycare provider about their plans on how they’re going to keep your child safe. Let them know about your concerns upfront about sending your kid back. They will understand this is a stressful decision, and should be able to answer your questions fully and hopefully calm your anxiety.

How will your mental health be impacted by either decision?

The pandemic is taking a mental toll on everyone, keeping tabs on your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Should you choose to send your child back to daycare, will you be worrying about their health and safety the entire day? Are you worried about finances from choosing to stay at home with your child rather than working? While the safety of your child is your top priority, don’t forget about your own health during your decision process.

Questions to Ask Your Daycare Provider

  • What’s your face mask policy? Will staff be wearing masks?

  • Will you be following CDC safety guidelines?

  • How will you screen children for symptoms before they enter the daycare?

  • How often will you be wiping down surfaces?

  • What will be the ratio of staff to children? 

  • What will the drop off and pick up procedures be?

  • What’s your plan if someone becomes sick?

  • Will you be allowing visitors at the daycare?

Should you decide to send your child back to daycare, make sure the daycare is implementing safety protocols. Higher-priority strategies include keeping class sizes small to minimize crossover, utilize outdoor spaces when possible, and to limit unnecessary visitors in the building. Lower-priority strategies include face coverings for the children since it may be difficult to implement due to their age, and reducing classmate interaction and play since it may not provide a substantial risk reduction. Babies and children under the age of two should not wear face masks due to suffocation dangers.

While COVID-19 concerns among adults are entirely valid, you should find some comfort in the fact that daycare aged children (under the age of ten) are substantially less at risk of contracting the virus. And even if they do become infected, studies have shown that over 90% of the pediatric cases of the virus are either asymptomatic or mild. 

Choosing whether to send your child back to daycare is not an easy decision. Financial, personal, and societal responsibilities should all be factors to consider. If you do decide to return to using daycare, make sure that the facility is doing everything in their power to keep children and everyone around them as safe as possible