Coronavirus hits Texas day cares, majority of cases among staff

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Health and Human Services said there are 67 reported positive COVID-19 cases in 60 open child care operations across the state. 

“HHSC has been notified of confirmed COVID-19 cases in 42 caregivers and 25 children,” Danielle Pestrikoff, Assistant Press Officer with HHSC explained. 

KXAN has requested a list of the child care centers that have positive cases, but Pestrikoff said they are determining if that information can be released.

The Children’s Center of Austin stayed open during the pandemic taking children of essential workers at its three locations. 

“We’re family owned and operated. Have been in business for… 20 plus years now here in Austin and we pride ourselves on our relationships with our families,” Ashley DiLorenzo, Head of Schools said. “We are the business… always there for our families, so we wanted to try to continue to be that during this time.”

On Wednesday, DiLorenzo said they had to notify parents and staff that a teacher at their Westlake School had tested positive for the virus. Since March the school has been averaging thirty students at that location. 

The message to parents explained that, “Teachers who work in the classroom have been asked to be tested, self-quarantine, monitor their symptoms, and keep management aware of results.”

“That day that teacher came in spoke to the director she was asked to go home immediately,” DiLorenzo said. “And then the next day those teachers were notified and they were not returned to school either. The parents were notified and so, yes we absolutely took all precautions to minimize the exposure.”

Supervisors tell KXAN that they notified the entire school after confirmation about the positive case. They explained that it’s been hard waiting to get facts they could share, as well as protecting the teacher’s privacy.​

The message to parents also said that the classroom remains closed and all other spaces including other classes, bathrooms and common areas have been disinfected by a cleaning company. ​

Since March, the Children’s Center of Austin has implemented a number of safety measures including temperature checks for everyone at all three schools. 

“No matter what we’re going to get through this together and we’re going to rally together and remain positive,” DiLorenzo said. “We’re here to do a job and to serve our community and educate young minds. We are going to make sure our doors stay open to do that.” 

Many day cares are now open to all children. Up until this week, they were only able to take children of essential workers. 

“As of today, May 21, there are 11,094 child care operations open and able to serve all,” Pestrikoff explained. 

In late March, 14% of facilities had reported closures due to COVID-19 concerns. 

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