Child care centers across Massachusetts are preparing to close their doors Monday amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order last week requiring all early education centers and family childcare providers to close starting Monday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
However, the state is making emergency child care available for families of emergency personnel, medical staff and others critical to combating the coronavirus.
More on the Coronavirus
Families who work to maintain the health, safety and welfare of Massachusetts residents will receive priority access to emergency childcare programs, according to the health department.
Vulnerable children, including DCF-involved families and families in shelters, will also receive priority access, and space will be made for people who must go to work but aren’t necessarily emergency personnel like grocery store and sanitation workers, and transportation and infrastructure workers.
Tonya Munchbach has a home daycare in Dedham. She’s one of the hundreds of emergency drop-off centers in the state opening Monday for care, when all the other daycares will be shut down by order of Gov. Baker to combat coronavirus.
“I have Purell, I have wipes, Lysol,” she said. "I am taking about 15 months and up....so I’m getting calls for that.”
Munchbach volunteered to do this because she knows people need help right now.
“I’m just glad I can help, in a small way I feel like I can help them so they can help the people that are sick,” she said.
Munchbach says she’s already spoken to a nurse, a police officer, and a firefighter.
“They seemed really happy, ecstatic that I was doing this," she said. "They didn’t know what to do and it’s a little bit of peace of mind.”
Munchbach also says she’s stepping up precautions by constantly wiping down toys and the center itself. She’ll also check the kids for any signs of sickness by taking the children’s temperatures upon arrival, at lunch time and after rest time.
Munchbach says she’s pleased to do this, and her other daycare owner friends are also now stepping up.
“It’s kind of like a little trickle effect," she said.
Other child care workers worry that they may be put out of business.
“This is where it’s — I have to let them know. It’s not anyone’s fault. It isn’t," said Tracey Nardone, a preschool owner. "But I have to be the one to tell them, ‘I’m sorry, tomorrow’s paycheck is the last one you’re going to get for a while.’”
Hundreds of emergency drop-off centers will be designated across the state. Click here for a complete list.