County Daycare Centers May Reopen Wednesday

Daycare centers in Putnam County will be permitted to reopen Wednesday, March 18, pursuant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order. Check with your daycare providers to see if they plan to open.

Putnam County stands firm in its position that the executive order it issued to close licensed public daycare centers starting Monday, March 16 for five days was the most responsible move to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“After consulting with our health commissioner and his staff, who are the professionals on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, we determined that closing daycare centers and pre-kindergarten programs was the best way to protect the community,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

“After all, we had closed public and private schools for the same five-day period, at the request of school administrators who looked to us for guidance. How could we try to protect children from kindergarten through 12th grade but neglect our youngest children? These children will go home to parents and grandparents who may be vulnerable to this virus.”

Putnam County Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Nesheiwat and his staff last week recommended closing schools. Odell then declared a state of emergency, which enabled her to issue an emergency order closing all public and private schools in the county for five days. The next logical step was to close daycare centers, according to the administration.

“Prior to the New York State emergency declaration, and in an effort to ensure social distancing, our county made a bold decision to provide clear direction to our daycares, just as we did for our schools,” said Nesheiwat. “Without implementing social distancing in all aspects of community settings, we create more challenges for the mitigation of COVID-19. By the end of the day with the announcement of the first lab-confirmed cases, this decision was applauded as proactive and responsible, given the circumstances.”

But the order Cuomo signed on Monday, which closes schools statewide for two weeks starting March 18, omitted daycare centers and required districts to come up with plans to show that first responders and health care workers would have access to childcare during school closures. His order supersedes local authority.

“We have to send a clear message to the public about what they should do,” said Legislator Amy Sayegh, R-Mahopac Falls, chairwoman of the Legislature’s Health Committee. “If on the one hand we are telling them to stay home and keep their school-aged children home, how can we then tell them to drop their little ones at daycare?”

Residents who have any questions about whether their business should be open or closed in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections should direct their questions to the governor’s office.

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