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Daycare centers tackle social distancing

Daycare centers are allowed to open under Governor Wolf's yellow phase. With so many people going back to work, child care is needed.

ELYSBURG, Pa. — Several of the day care facilities in Northumberland County were allowed to stay open during the shutdown because many of the parents are essential workers. Even so, when this area went to the yellow phase Friday, some of the centers saw an influx of kids.

Children played outside at "Wee Ones Childcare and Preschool" near Watsontown on Tuesday. Normally, more than 40 kids attend this day care center. When Governor Wolf issued the statewide stay-at-home order in mid-March, the center was given a waiver to stay open, but enrollment dropped.

"Since turning yellow on Friday, we are back up. We've probably doubled our enrollment at this point," said Jessica Martin.

Jessica Martin and Elizabeth Pena own the facility. They have new precautions in place because of COVID-19.

"We've kind of lessened the numbers of kiddos per classroom. We have six classrooms, so we've been trying to utilize them and keep the numbers lower," Martin said.

When it comes to toys, it's extra cleaning.

"If we see them put it in their mouth, we take it and put it in a bin. At the end of the day, it's cleaned. We also have extra toys so we can rotate the bins and give them a nice Clorox soak in the sink," Elizabeth Pena explained.

Jennifer Jankowski owns "Little Britches Daycare" near Elysburg. She also had a waiver to stay open, but enrollment doubled when Northumberland County went yellow last week.

Jankowski takes the kids' temperatures before they come inside and parents now drop off their kids in the lobby instead of the classrooms. The children are constantly washing their hands. Children do not wear masks at either facility.

"It's hard enough to keep their socks on their feet, let alone a mask on their face. It's difficult," Jankowski said.

The day care center owners say they are social distancing the best they can. Parents seem grateful.

"We have a lot of prison guards, doctors, nurses. They need to be at work and if they don't have care for their children, they can't be there," Pena said.

All the day care center owners we spoke with say they are spending a lot of extra time cleaning.