Is it Safe for Parents to Send Kids Back to Daycare in Massachusetts?

In mid-March, childcare facilities around the Commonwealth shut their doors in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s been a tough few months for parents, who’ve had to balance job responsibilities, educating older kids at home, and getting through the day without the help of daycare providers.

As Massachusetts begins to establish its new normal, daycare facilities are reopening. Many parents want to know if it’s safe to send the kids back.

Like so many answers as we adapt to life with COVID-19: It depends. 

As South Shore Health’s Director of Infectious Disease recently wrote, the rules aren’t as universal as things reopen as they were when they shut down. 

Leaders, with the help of public health experts, have established guidelines for businesses to minimize the risk, but it’s impossible to fully eliminate risk anytime we leave our homes. Therefore, it’s up to individuals to make an informed decision about what’s best for their family.

Here’s what I tell parents who are concerned about sending their kids back to daycare.

Make sure you understand your provider’s commitment to safety

The Bay State’s requirements for daycares to reopen are stringent. Centers must screen staff and children daily for symptoms of illness, and those who are symptomatic will be sent home. Class sizes will be much smaller. As much as possible, caregivers will try to keep kids apart from each other.

Ask questions about the steps your childcare provider is taking to maintain appropriate safety and hygiene standards. If you don’t feel comfortable, keep your child at home.

Evaluate Your Family’s Risk Tolerance

Even the most rigorous daycare providers can’t eliminate the risk of your child catching a virus, and possibly bringing it home to the rest of the family. 

Think about the members of your family that your child lives with, or sees on a regular basis. If they are elderly, have diabetes, lung issues, are immunocompromised, or have other conditions that put them at high risk of complications from COVID-19, you may have to decide whether daycare is worth the risk to your family member’s health.

Talk to Your Pediatrician

Your child’s pediatrician knows your child best. He or she can talk through all the risk factors with you to help you make an informed decision for your family. Don’t hesitate to use South Shore MyChart to send your care team a note, or to give us a call.

Learn more about pediatrics at South Shore Health.