Parents are accustomed to school and day care closures due to the holiday periods, extreme weather events, wildfires or other natural disasters. But trying to figure out childcare in the face of a global pandemic is uncharted territory for most. As the number of COVID-19 cases rises, so is the number of schools closing in response.
As of this week, a lot of schools and day care centers have been closed or are scheduled to close for reasons related to coronavirus, including exposures and intense cleaning. Private institutions, preschools, nurseries are also affected. But one thing’s for sure: It’s not hard to imagine that we might soon follow in the footsteps of many other countries like South Korea, Iran, Japan, France, Pakistan and Italy, where school and day care facilities have been closed for a set period of time or indefinitely.
From the effect this will have on our economy to the shortage of staff this could cause for hospitals, which are scrambling to find a way to support providers who are also parents, it’s clear the COVID-19 outbreak is already creating a childcare crisis with wide-reaching effects. It also bears noting that this new turn of events only compounds the existing childcare battles parents face: A lot of families are spending unaffordable rates. And even if you usually have access to quality care, many parents lack the paid time off to stay home with their children for an indeterminate length of time.
We asked Care.com Facebook followers how they’re coping in the face of the outbreak. Here’s how they plan to handle—or are already handling—childcare in times of Corona.
Switch off with a partner or family member
In some families, one parent has better benefits than the other and can rely on paid sick leave while the other heads to work. In others, grandparents or other relatives can step in.
“I am an ER nurse, will be working the front lines. Hopefully, my husband can stay home on sick time to take care of our 6-year-old and 16-month-old. Otherwise we have enough money in savings to last us a long time.” – Amanda Bledsoe
“[As a caregiver] the plan is for me to work as if it is a school vacation … My mom, who works in the school district, would take my eldest with special needs just as she does when we have a scheduled break. We have always had this plan.” – Krystal Laundry
“My husband would watch them while I work, or if he starts working, I’ll watch them.” – Carrie Small
“Thankful my family helps out. I work a third shift so definitely would be tired, but I will make it through.” – Ashley Harrison
Struggle to nail down details
Some parents admit they’re unsure of how they’ll manage financially and/or logistically.
“Most people in America can’t afford to miss a week’s pay. If my child’s school closed, either my husband or I would have to take time off — something that we can’t afford to do.” – Cherie Toland
“I have 0 help. No clue what will happen.” – Kristen Freibott
“[I would] stay home and pray I get paid while we are closed, since I work at a day care.” – Kali Matheney
It’s pretty much the status quo
Many stay-at-home parents noted that they plan to home-school or support their kids doing at-home schoolwork assigned by their teachers.
“I would just temporarily homeschool my school aged children until school reopened.” – Brittany Ann Watts
“My toddler would continue their daily routine as usual, and I would have my middle-school-age son continue to work on school projects on the computer and [do] lots of reading.” – Amy Caroline Mulhern
“Charging tablets, gathering snacks. Making sure Disney+ is up to date!” – Kenzie Luke
Work from home
Several moms noted that they’ve been given the green light to do their jobs from home, either in general or as a result of the outbreak.
“I’m fortunate to work in a job that allows me the flexibility to work remotely, and I have a manager that supports me doing so.” – Amanda Lenz
“I am lucky in that I work from home as a freelance illustrator, so I can stay home and home-school all my kiddos.” – Brittany Hoskins Novak
“My company has decided to close the doors and have us work from home if local schools close. We are set up to be remote if need be.” – Laura Kayvonfar