Day care

Child care goes on at Walton Creative Learning in Monroe, Ga., on Thursday, March 19, 2020. The facility on Ridge Road remains open despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

With school out and many day care options closed due to the threat of the coronavirus, some parents are scrambling to deal with having their children at home and underfoot all day long.

For other parents, it’s far worse than that, as they try to figure out how to handle their children being at home when they have to work, particularly those who work in high priority jobs such as health care positions or emergency workers.

Cindy Harp, director of Walton Creative Learning, and Kim Jones, assistant director, see that need and are acting accordingly, keeping the doors of their day care and preschool operations open during the midst of the rush to social distancing across the county.

“We have so many parents that need us,” Jones said. “We have parents who work at the hospital, first responders or work at places like Walmart. They still have to work.”

Harp agreed.

“We still need people caring for the sick at the hospital, responding to emergencies in fire trucks and police cars or just stocking the shelves so we can keep buying groceries,” Harp said. “I know a lot of day cares are closed. If parents need emergency day care, we’re here for them.”

Walton Creative Learning, in Monroe, usually has nearly 110 children on a daily basis. Right now, with many families at home in semi-isolation or quarantine conditions, Harp and Jones said they have about 34 kids there, but that means they can fit in other children for parents who absolutely cannot stay at home with their children.

“We have parents thanking us every day for still being open,” Harp said. “And we’re currently offering first responders and health care workers a 10% discount if they need our services.”

Jones said they are treating every day like it’s the midst of flu season, following by default the regulations the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested to combat COVID-19.

“We have daily cleaning routines in place already,” Jones said. “The precautionary measures suggested are things we always do on a daily basis.”

Jones admitted circumstances could change in the days ahead, necessitating further precautionary measures or even restrictions in the building.

“It’s not directly hitting children right now and we feel our parents need us,” Jones said. “But things change on a daily basis.”

But Harp said, for now at least, they have every intention of keeping the doors open as long as they can.

“Our goal is to only close if they make us through mandatory closures,” Harp said. “Otherwise, we’re here to serve the community and we will stay open.”

Stephen Milligan is a staff writer for The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.