Getting it right: How Madison-area daycares are able to safely stay open during the pandemic

MADISON, Wis.– When most businesses closed their doors mid-March, local daycare centers kept theirs open. And to the surprise of many, they did so safely.

Four months later, there have been no widespread coronavirus outbreaks at Madison-area centers. And at a time when we’re still seeing cases spike at restaurants and bars, there’s something to be learned from the businesses who are getting it right.

Take KinderCare on Madison’s west side, for example: on average, staff members take care of a couple dozens kids a day. Even as the virus spread this spring, and cases climbed, the center’s director says there haven’t been any reported cases at her facility.

This could be, in part, because there are almost no recorded cases of child-to-adult transmission of the virus. An education policy expert wrote an op-ed explaining this is why reopening full-time child care and schools shouldn’t be too risky. That is, as long as administrators are also strict about their policies.

Places like KinderCare not only follow CDC guidelines, but they take them one step further.

They don’t allow children in their building. Not even News 3 Now was allowed inside for this interview.

KinderCare’s Director, Kimberly Galarza, says cleaning is number one. Her staff is constantly wiping down everything.

Every child has his or her temperature taken not only when they get to the center, but several additional times throughout the day. Any time a child has a fever, or any symptom of covid—chills, nausea, trouble breathing— he or she is immediately separated from other kids.

While kids aren’t required to wear masks, all teachers do.

Above all, KinderCare’s main goal is to make sure families feel and are safe.

“Children need that routine,” Galarza explained. “They need that sense of community. Just like we’re wanting that sense of community with other people, kids want that too, and that’s what they’re going to find here.”

According to Galarza, KinderCare’s numbers are down right now, as some parents remain skeptical about sending their kids to daycare, while others are still out of work.

If you are looking for childcare options, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families website has a Child Care Provider portal complete with an interactive map where you can search for options by zip code.

Click here to search for child care options near you.