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As daycares shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19, parents must juggle childcare and working from home. 'It's a very new groove.'

Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Parenting News

CHICAGO -- Bright and early on a recent morning, as Chicago resident Beth Bond took a conference call with international colleagues, her husband was nearby washing slime out of their daughters' hair.

The scene represented the Bond family's new normal during the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus. With schools and day cares shutting down to quell the spread of the disease, and most offices closed, parents are juggling remote work and child-rearing.

"Before it was 'Oh my god, that's so unprofessional to have your kids screaming in the background," Bond said. "Now everyone is in the same boat."

At day cares throughout the Chicago area, the decision to close is not being taken lightly. The state told schools to shut down, but gave no such directive to day cares. Some remain open, knowing their clients are employed in heath care fields and must continue going to work. Others have closed and are providing parents with activities for their kids, or recording videos for students to watch.

Before Sprouts of Joy Daycare shut down on Tuesday, attendance had already dwindled from about 15 to eight children, said owner Elisa Alicea.

"A lot of parents were just texting me ... saying, 'For health reasons, we're going to keep so and so home today,'" Alicea said.

 

The Logan Square day care serves kids from six weeks old to 12 years old. Alicea had been sanitizing toys during nap time, doing laundry more frequently and having the students excessively wash their hands, but she decided it was time to close.

She's planning to share ideas for crafts and art projects involving Play-Doh, chalk and paint on the day care's Facebook page. Alicea intends to keep the Logan Square day care closed until March 31, the same day Chicago Public Schools are expected to reconvene.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order closing all kindergarten through 12th grade schools, public and private, from March 17 through March 30. Some districts have already chosen to stay closed longer, and it's possible the statewide shutdown will be extended.

Day cares have felt the impact. Children who come after school are staying home, and some toddlers are being kept home with older, school-aged siblings.

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