July 28, 2021

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Few child care facilities open their doors amid the coronavirus emergency

In the equation of returning to normality in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Kael Llanos Durán four years old, is the most "happy" that is in his family.

After more than three months of confinement, the boy went out for the first time to the care center that in the past years has protected him in what his parents work, Pequeques in Hato Rey.

Despite the The usual shyness of infants, Kael assured that his contentment was due to the fact that "at any minute I will see my class friends" .

His mother, however, was concerned when in the This Thursday morning she left him in the care of the teachers at the children's center.

Camille Durán told Primera Hora that she faces the same doubts as many parents in the midst of this coronavirus emergency.

Kael has been a student of Pequeques for several years now and, given the circumstance of coronaviru s and others, because he has been at home all the time and he really needs to be in another "environment" that is not at home. The only place I trust is really here in Pequeques, because the teachers and all the staff are excellent and, therefore and within everything, to prepare ourselves (for the face-to-face return to work) and so on, we made the decision, which has been strong, to bring him here "he explained.

The Pequeques care center is already operating. ([email protected])

He noted that the situation in the home was “quite difficult” due to the confinement the minor was facing. And, although he pointed out that "his heart wants to go out," his family decided that it was best for care to begin last Wednesday, the day when they were already authorized to operate these centers by executive order of Governor Wanda Vázquez. [19659002] The woman explained that at home "his mood is not the same and he gets tired … Boredom, moreover, at the stage he is in, which is four years old, requires that encouragement and that education that, at home, although Mom and Dad want it, there needs to be another person and other children. ”

Kael arrived at around 9:00 am to your care. His face was covered with a "face shield". He was anxious to enter and asked his mother at every moment if he could already pass. However, the new protocol requires that both the child and the mother take their temperature, as well as disinfect their hands and feet. Durán also had to wear a special gown, register her child electronically, and answer several questions about possible symptoms.

The mother had to say goodbye at the gate. The boy, then, went to the entrance of the structure, where he took off the shoes he brought from home and put on ones that his parents designated to be used only in care. He washed his hands and started playing with three other children who were in the center.

A challenge to operate

Pequeques was one of about 20 infant care centers, of the 559 registered on the island before of the pandemic, which decided to start operations from the first day they were authorized, reported the president of the Association of Care Centers, Vilmarie Esquilín .

For the corporation, opening has been a challenge . It is that they start operations in the midst of drinking water rationing, under a pandemic in which much hygiene is required and with the fear of parents feeling of taking their children to care, as summarized by the director of Pequeques, Keyza Rivera .

The care has a capacity to serve 50 infants, but their enrollment in this new beginning is limited to four children.

Rivera accepted that many families have informed them that they would not take their children in August or perhaps by the time 2021 begins. This situation, he acknowledged, will affect them financially.

They are new processes and families are still afraid of taking their children out of their homes and enrolling them in centers of watch out. But, we have families who trust the processes and have to be returning to their jobs. So in Pequeques we have all the safe, clean areas, for a safe and appropriate restart for all our children, "he said.

In the midst of all the care they have, Rivera recognized that one of the main difficulties is getting the children have fun with physical distancing. To do this, they have programmed individualized games and psychological help to face this new emergency.

“How difficult it is to ensure physical distance in children! It is very difficult, because we work with a physical approach. But, in these times, we have developed strategies so that they can play perhaps more individually, maintaining that required distance of six feet. We have several activities also focused on their emotional development, because we come from several months locked up at home, kept at home, telling children that there is a virus on the street, but we here are prepared to give these emotional tools to our children so that they feel safe, confident and that this is not permanent, this is going to happen, "he said.

Parents are afraid

Two owners of infant centers, whose businesses are still closed, agreed with Rivera that parents are very afraid to take their children to care. They indicated that the polls indicate that it would be in August that the little ones would begin to arrive.

Faced with such a framework, Neyza Barreto reported that his care Chiquimundi will begin operations on Guaynabo July 20.

"It is the parents who -at the end of the day- determine the opening date," he explained.

Olga O'Neill from the centers Peek A Boo also in Guaynabo, stated that he will open his two cares next Monday, because it was not cost effective for him to operate in the middle of a long weekend on the occasion of the Independence Day of the United States.

He recognized that the number of children “has decreased” considerably. He indicated that one of its centers has a capacity for 120 children and the other 55, but that between them they will receive “less than 20 children.”

“For me it is not cost effective, but it is a way of rehearsing, to see how it runs. In August the parents said yes or yes (they take their children to care), "he explained.

The statements offered by these owners coincide with the surveys carried out by the Association, that the children would begin to return in next August.

Esquilín explained that it is the Department of the Family the entity that has established the guidelines to operate and is also the agency that will provide financial aid for the success of operations in the midst of this emergency. of public health.

He pointed out, however, that for the centers the economic situation is "unsustainable". He said that this week they have notified him of at least five cares that will not operate again.

"Economically, this business is not going to be sustainable" he explained.

Among the problems that They face is that they have to operate with 30% less than their enrollment capacity and that expenses have increased. Personally, Esquilín, owner of the Esquilín Mangual Children's Center in Caguas decided to increase the monthly payment.

“What we want is that, if we open, that we open responsibly and with the security of guaranteeing that that child does not get sick. We are working with families and we have to see that the guidelines are followed, but parents also have to help us. Children with signs of a cold, of mucus will not enter. So they take him to the doctor and the doctor gives a certificate that I can admit him. That specialist is not helping me, the father is not helping me. They cannot bring children with any symptoms of illness. That is the recommendation, "concluded the official.

Primera Hora requested an interview with the Secretary of the Family, Orlando López about the situation of the care centers. This was not available, because he was meeting in La Fortaleza.

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