CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Six children have tested positive for COVID-19 at a Charlotte daycare facility.
The newest local cluster on the state’s list is Kindercare Providence at 1700 Providence Road. It’s one of three childcare clusters in Mecklenburg County.
Health officials consider a cluster a group of five or more cases.
According to its website, Kindercare Providence has temporarily closed “in the best interest of global health.” Calls to the daycare went unanswered.
The message on the website asks parents to seek other centers in the area for childcare services for families in essential service roles.
The center was expected to reopen on Wednesday, so WBTV reached out for information regarding the safety protocols that are being taken with reopening.
KinderCare provided a response Wednesday afternoon.
“The health and safety of our children, families and staff is always our top priority. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve developed enhanced health and safety measures in partnership with the CDC and a panel of medical experts to ensure our centers remain as clean and safe as possible,” the statement read.
The facility says as soon as they learned of the positive diagnoses at the Providence Road center, they partnered with the local health department and closed the center for 14 days.
“We used that time to retrain our staff on our health and safety protocols to ensure we’re delivering against the highest standards possible.,” the statement read.
KinderCare says their daily health and safety practices include:
- Frequent hand-washing and surface/toy sanitizing
- Personal protective gear, including masks (which teachers and staff must wear at all times)
- Temperature checks and health questionnaires for anyone entering centers
- A dedicated health and safety ambassador
- Restricted access to classrooms
- Health screenings throughout the day
- A strict exclusion for illness policy
- Social distancing in classrooms, when appropriate for age groups – for example, placing cots six feet apart and head to toe during naptime
If someone in one of the centers is diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, KinderCare officials say they have a protocol in place to follow. That protocol includes the following:
- Notifying the health department and center families.
- Closing center for at least 72 hours to clean and disinfect the building and to evaluate whether anyone else developed COVID-19 symptoms.
- Any additional guidance from the health department.
In recent weeks, both Atrium Health and Novant Health have reported more children testing positive for COVID-19. Levine Children’s Hospital Epidemiologist Dr. Amina Ahmed says that is in part because more children are being tested now than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Again, the vast majority off kids will have mild disease—we know that nationally, globally, etc. But we are going to have some kids that have this MIS-C,” Dr. Ahmed said.
MIS-C is the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome that some children have presented with in addition to a positive COVID-19 case. In some cases, MIS-C can be serious.
Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order exempts children under the age of 11 from wearing masks but Atrium Health Pediatrician Dr. Debbie Chavez-Mitchell says if a child can wear one, they should.
“It is still recommended that if a child does not have any barrier to wearing a mask--- so if they don’t have a respiratory disorder--- then we do recommend they wear it if they cannot appropriately social distance,” Dr. Chavez-Mitchell said.
As the clusters in school and daycare settings continue to rise, the discussion continues over whether children should return to school in person come fall. One mother and nurse WBTV spoke with, said she’s concerned.
“My hope is that school doesn’t open … I just don’t think we’re ready for it,” Janaria Nash said. “I’ve even been fiddle faddling back and forth with my husband if it does start, are we going to put him in homeschool because I just don’t feel safe for him.”
Coronavirus fears aside, Novant Health Pediatrics Symphony Park Pediatrician Dr. Kasey Scannell says with school out and many children not attending daycare, there could be educational and developmental delays due to their absence.
“I am finding it fascinating just about how this is affecting kids at every developmental stage there in because these stages are sometimes short and brief and you’re only going to be 9 months old for a bit,” Dr. Scannell said. “And so if you spend your entirety of 9 months surrounded by people wearing masks, or two-year-olds that aren’t hanging out with other two-year-olds, they aren’t developing social skills. How this is going to affect people long term I think is very fascinating, from a social-skills, language skill development standpoint.”
Health officials said the first coronavirus “cluster” in the county was located at the Smart Kids #3 Childcare Center, off of E. W.T. Harris Boulevard near Grove Park Boulevard. The cluster is still listed as active on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services dashboard.