BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Childcare centers were not ordered to close during the pandemic; however, they had a choice and some facilities decided to shut their doors. For the centers that remained open, they continued to follow the Mississippi Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations.
Guidelines and recommendations were issued in late August from the Mississippi State Department of Health, and since then, childcare centers have developed their own plan to ensure safety.
“We haven’t changed too many things because we always clean and sanitize things," said Executive Director and owner of KinderLearn Child Development Center Laurie Whitten. "We’ve just kind of stepped it up another level.”
Before children leave the car, temperatures are taken. While that’s happening parents answer COVID-19 symptom-related questions: “Do you have a cough, runny nose, shortness of breath?”
“We meet them at the door and we allow two parents of two families in the office at a time, then we bring them back to the rooms," Whitten said. "We wash their hands as soon as they get in there.”
Whitten has a mask mandate for all adults while in close contact, but that’s not the case for children. The department of health advises avoiding masks on babies and children under the age of two.
“If they have a fever then we send them home," Whitten said. "Once they go get checked out they have to have a doctor’s excuse to come back so we are taking that more seriously.”
Gulfport family physician Dr. Jimmy Dimitriades said he’s noticed a decrease in sickness-related visits since additional safety measures are being followed.
“Everybody being more aware of handwashing," Dimitriades said. "Everybody being more aware of wearing a mask and having clean hands, we’re seeing fewer sick kids overall. Most of your involved illnesses transmit through hand and mouth.”