Changes daycares are making as COVID-19 pandemic continues

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Apple Tree has shut down its East 26th Street child care center after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, but its three other Sioux Falls locations are still open for the children of essential workers.

Many KELOLAND daycares are making adjustments as the pandemic continues.

“It was inevitable, we knew that eventually someone was going to test positive in the center,” Apple Tree Programs Director Lori Braley said.

That first case was a teacher in a toddler room at the east side location. The students and staff in her direct classroom are asked to self-quarantine until April 27th but others at that center will be without daycare until that date.

“Parents were of course calling us right away wondering if the other centers would shut down, but as there was no exposure in those centers, we didn’t have to shut anybody else down,” Braley said.

Many of those concerned phone calls are coming from essential workers who rely on their daycare to continue serving the community.

“We have several that are medical people, we have first responders, we have nurses, we have doctors, we have a man that works at the penitentiary and he needs to be there everyday,” Braley said.

“For him its definitely not an option. His delivery company is about as busy as they are at Christmas time, so he’s gone six days a week, before we get up in the morning and he gets home about to supper time, if not later, so I knew he didn’t have the option of helping. He can’t really take a four-year-old out on delivery with you,” Blue Dragon Academy mom Mallory Zell said.

Mallory Zell and her husband are both still working and are grateful their daycare, the Blue Dragon Academy is still open to care for their daughter.

“I have full faith that my daycare center is doing everything they can to keep my child safe while she’s there, to keep their employees safe to keep the other boys and girls safe,” Zell said. “Every time I pick my child up they’re cleaning, the other day they were cleaning the walls.”

Apple Tree staff are also thoroughly cleaning their classrooms every two hours and helping the kids understand how they can help  too.

“They’re teaching kids to cough into their elbow and sneeze into their elbow,” Braley said.

Apple Tree says they only have about 60 percent of their usual students attending right now. Parents who are keeping their kids at home during the pandemic are asked to pay 50 percent of their regular tuition to hold onto their spot at Apple Tree. Some families have chosen to drop out of daycare to avoid the bill altogether while others are still choosing to pay full tuition even while their child is at home. 

Parents at the East 26th Street Apple Tree will not be charged while the building is closed next week and staff will still receive a full paycheck. Braley says Apple Tree has applied for the Paycheck Protection Program to help keep all of their staff members through the pandemic. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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