On Saturday March 14, 2020 North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper ordered all K-12 public schools in North Carolina to close for a minimum of two weeks in response to COVIID-19. UNC Health charged our task force to figure out how to provide childcare for their healthcare workers’ children who will no longer be in school.
“All these offers are nice, but I won’t be doing that.” While neighbors, college and graduate students, faith-based organizations, and many others volunteer childcare coverage for healthcare workers in North Carolina, healthcare workers that we talked to are skeptical of leaving their children with volunteers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the things we heard from healthcare workers:
“I’m not even sure I want my regular babysitter to watch my kids, let alone someone I don’t know."
“I’m more careful now about who I choose [to watch my kids] than before COVID.”
“I can’t ask my parents because they’re retired and over 65 and don’t want to put them at risk even though they’re happy to.”
How many UNC Health employees have childcare responsibilities? How many children do they have? How old are they? What school districts are they a part of?
What do we really need in order to provide safe, high-quality childcare amidst COVID-19? Who are the potential trusted adults who would care for children? Where and how could we supervise children?
Can childcare be virtual? Can children be remotely supervised (e.g. via Zoom)?
What percentage of healthcare workers outside the U.S. and across the U.S. are testing positive for COVID-19?
What other organizations or companies are trying to provide childcare coverage for healthcare workers here in North Carolina and elsewhere?
If state officials are re-assessing school closures and other measures in the next two weeks, what would we recommend that they do?