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Local childcare sites taking precaution as counties look to continue reopening plans

Posted at 11:55 PM, May 18, 2020

A glimmer of hope for the return to normal Monday, as Governor Newsom loosens the requirements for counties to reopen.

The new guidelines include a change in hospitalization rates and positive case counts.

Counties will have to petition the state in order to get approval to re-open faster, however.

This move will allow most of the state's 58 counties to begin allowing dine-in services in restaurants and the ability to shop in stores, but it's all up to the state's approval.

Childcare sites in both counties will be affected.

San Luis Obispo County childcare sites are already back open and preparing for more kids as employees go back to work.

In Santa Barbara County, they're preparing to reopen to non-essential workers under the new guidelines.

Building blocks, legos and social distancing lines are now a part of preschool classrooms at Valley View Children's Center in Arroyo Grande.

"It's giving them an idea of where to place their bodies so they're a little further from each other but still able to interact," explained Jamie Sanbonmatsu, Director of Valley View Children's Center.

Staff at the center are preparing for the return of their two to five-year-old students.

"To expect children to stay apart completely and not interact would be unnatural for early childhood," Sanbonmatsu said.

New routines will be put in place: Brita pitchers will be put into classrooms instead of communal water fountains and social distancing reminders will be given throughout the day.

"So [the staff] talked about when we hear: 'Watch your bubble' or 'Where's your space' or a cue word, they'll all know to check themselves and make sure they have enough space around them," Sanbonmatsu said.

Sanbonmatsu says not all of the parents at the center feel comfortable sending their children back just yet, which is helping keep class sizes to 10 students or less.

Valley View Children's Center staff will be required to take their temperatures every morning and night and parents will be required to keep a log of their student's temperatures as well.

As more employees are able to return back to work, more families may be looking for childcare sites like this one.

Central Coast counties say they plan on submitting documentation to the state, proving they meet certain criteria in order to gain more control over reopening.

"The California Department of Public Health will review all the documentation, make sure everything meets the criteria they've set and then post it on their website, giving the county the allowance to move forward," Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Health Officer explained.

The excitement of reopening also comes with some cautionary reminders from health officials.

"The more mobility of people, the higher the likelihood of virus spread," said Dr. Henning Ansorg of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

County leaders say there's no way to predict when the approval from the state will happen.

Both counties' supervisors will be addressing reopening in their meetings Tuesday.

Both meetings are being held virtually.

San Luis Obispo County has created a business reopening assessment sheet for business owners to gauge how ready they are to reopen. Click here for more details.