Bay Area Daycare Faces Declined Enrollment During Pandemic

While the coronavirus pandemic has forced the closure of many businesses in the Bay Area, some daycares remain open.

Cathy Aiello is the director of Little Genius Academy in Walnut Creek, and she told KCBS Radio that it continues to operate a regular schedule for parents who must continue working. 

"We're here for the duration," she said. "Doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers: we're still open to provide care for desperately needy families who absolutely have no other alternative.”

Like grocery stores and gas stations, child care programs are considered "essential" businesses, though many have shut down due to low enrollment. 

Some providers thought they would see a surge in applications due to the fact that schools are closed, but Aiello said it has been the opposite.

"I can honestly say we are 60 percent down on our enrollment," she said.

This comes as more families self-isolate and must work from home.

"A lot of the children have siblings, so choosing to stay home was nothing that surprised us," Aiello said.

For the approximately 40 kids that Little Genius Academy continues to serve, drastic steps to practice safe social distancing have been taken. Children must be in groups no larger than 12 and the groups must stay the same each day without adding or mixing.

"Teachers are using gloves and masks," Aiello said. "We're doing our best to group the kids very small to keep them at a safe distance. We keep the same children with the same teachers. Same room, same procedure every single day."

While there is concern regarding funding to stay afloat, Aiello said they plan to keep their doors open as long as they can.

"We're taking it one day at a time," she said.