Difficulties that some care centers are experiencing could pose a problem as counties reopen.

STOCK PHOTO - Oregon's COVID-19 pandemic shutdown highlighted problems with the state's child care system.On March 23, Gov. Kate Brown issued an order to child care centers in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus: abide by strict new emergency rules, or close.

But some child care centers had already closed before that. And some tried to stay open, following the new emergency rules — and wound up closing anyway. The difficulties that child care centers are experiencing could pose a problem, as counties across Oregon reopen and look to workers to return … only to find that working parents can't find care for their children.

Take the experiences of two child care centers in Corvallis:

Wonders Early Learning Center had already shut down by the time Brown gave her "follow these rules or shut down" ultimatum. Like many daycares and preschools, Wonders generally took its cues from local schools. Brown's order to close schools came 11 days before her broader shut down rules.

Wonders Early Learning Center director Jennie Dalgas recalled that the announcement came on Thursday, March 12.

"So that Friday, I woke up to a bunch of panicked teachers saying, 'What are we going to do?'" Dalgas said.

"I … just simply responded with, 'Welcome to my bad dream.'"

Dalgas let parents and staff know that the center would be closing. At first, the move appeared to be temporary — it was like closing for spring break early. But public school buildings would soon be shuttered longer, and centers like Wonders along with them.

This OPB story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.


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