Legislators representing Carroll County want the state to allow increased capacity at child care centers and summer camps in the wake of the pandemic.
District 5 Republican Dels. Susan Krebs, April Rose, Haven Shoemaker, and state Sen. Justin Ready signed a June 10 letter addressed to Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon asking her to “increase the capacity of children in child care facilities and to lift the restrictions on capacity at summer camps.”
Krebs emailed a copy of the letter to the Carroll County Times.
“Child care is an economic driver and foundation for working families. Marylanders cannot get back to work without adequate child care,” the letter reads.
Legislators wrote they learned through conversations with constituents that child care facilities operating under the 10-person maximum capacity are struggling to accommodate the typical number of families they serve.
The letter requested the following changes as soon as possible:
- Increase the numbers in child care facilities to full capacity.
- Revisit and justify the regulations which require physical distancing and other new public health guidelines.
- Allow summer camps to proceed as in the past.
- Restore funding child care for essential workers through June 30, 2020.
- Follow the constantly evolving science as a basis for regulations.
Citing studies that suggest the risk of children contracting COVID-19 is very low, the letter argues the risk is not high enough to justify continuing lockdowns and limits on child care.
The letter also acknowledged child care facilities that have been forced to close due to financial losses endured during the pandemic.
“The unintended consequences to this will force parents to use unsafe, unfamiliar and unregulated child care. How will our parents go back to work without the infrastructure available to care for their children?” the letter states.
In addition to increasing capacity, legislators asked that “burdensome” restrictions and regulations be removed. The letter suggested cleaning a playground after use is a “costly and onerous process for child care providers,” and asked what science supports this measure.
According to a May 22 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statement, the primary way COVID-19 is spread is through close contact from person to person, though “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
Although the legislators’ request was directed to be applied to all counties, the letter highlighted Carroll County’s COVID-19 situation.
“Carroll County has demonstrated low numbers of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths in our community with the vast majority concentrated in congregant care facilities. By working with local leadership and the evolving science, we feel the ability to increase the numbers of children in child care facilities and summer camps will be readily accepted by the community and centers and will still provide the safety for our children that we all expect,” the letter states.
As of June 10, there were 1,001 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 116 fatalities in Carroll County. Of those figures, 559 cases and 104 fatalities were linked to congregate living facilities, according to the county health department.
The letter asked the superintendent of schools to revisit the requirements placed on child care facilities and remove those that do not present a “significant threat” to children.