NYC Seeks July 13 Reopening of 3,000 Child Care Centers

New York City plans to reopen 3,000 child care centers as it proceeds through the third phase of reopening its economy.

The move, subject to a city Board of Health vote Tuesday, would ordinarily affect 150,000 children. But with social distancing regulations limiting children to 15 per room and continuing higher-than-usual unemployment, officials expect fewer families to participate, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“A lot of work has been done in the past few weeks to prepare,” de Blasio said during a news briefing. “It’s important to tell people that child care centers will open as soon as Monday because for a lot parents this will be very important to their plans.”

The city has permitted 125 child-care centers to operate for essential workers throughout the pandemic but most facilities have remained shut. Although the state sets the criteria for child-care center licensing, the city health department has authority to decide to open them, said city Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot.

Dani Lever, spokeswoman for Governor Andrew Cuomo, didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether the city could make the decision without state approval.

Opening the private licensed centers would mark a significant milestone in the city’s ability to restart its economy as parents return to work. The expansion of the facilities would follow the city’s move into its Phase Three reopening Monday. That allowed businesses such as nail salons, spas, cosmetic surgery and massage and tanning salons to join other allowed enterprises, such as outdoor restaurant dining, barber shops, construction, wholesale and curbside retail.

In the meantime, several hundred thousand workers have returned to their jobs during the first two reopening phases. Subway ridership increased 18%, to more than 1.1 million a day, between June 18 and July 1, de Blasio said. That’s still about 20% of an average weekday’s ridership before the pandemic. Staten Island Ferry ridership, up 15 percent, has been restored to full rush-hour service, he said.

In addition to restricting occupancy to 15 children per room, face coverings will be required for children and staff, as will daily health screenings, frequent cleaning and disinfection, and limited sharing of instructional materials and toys, Barbot said.

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