Daycare centers in Putnam County will be permitted to reopen on Wednesday, March 18, pursuant to the Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order. Check with your daycare providers to see if they plan to open.
Putnam County stands firm in its position that the Executive Order we issued to close licensed public daycare centers starting Monday, March 16 for five days was the most responsible move to contain the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19.
“After consulting with our Health Commissioner and his staff, who are the professionals on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, we determined that closing daycare centers and pre-kindergarten programs was the best way to protect the community,” Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “After all, we had closed the public and private schools for the same five-day period, at the request of school administrators who looked to us for guidance. How could we try to protect children from kindergarten through 12th grade but neglect our youngest children? These children will go home to parents and grandparents who may be vulnerable to this virus.”
Last week, Mahopac Schools Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo came to the county seeking guidance as to whether it was better for schools to stay open or to close. We turned to Putnam County Commissioner of Health, Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD, and his staff for advice and they recommended closing the schools. Odell then declared a State of Emergency, which enabled her to issue an Emergency Order closing all public and private schools in the county for five days. The next logical step was to close daycare centers.
The County Emergency Order was put into place on Sunday in response to a flood of calls from daycare providers and families searching for guidance.
“Prior to the NY State emergency declaration, and in an effort to ensure social distancing, our county made a bold decision to provide clear direction to our daycares, just as we did for our schools,” Dr. Nesheiwat said. “Without implementing social distancing in all aspects of community settings, we create more challenges for the mitigation of COVID-19. By the end of the day with the announcement of the first lab confirmed cases, this decision was applauded as proactive and responsible, given the circumstances.”
But the order Governor Andrew Cuomo signed on Monday, which closes schools statewide for two weeks starting Wednesday, March 18, omitted daycare centers and required districts to come up with plans to show that first responders and healthcare workers would have access to childcare during school closures. His order supersedes local authority.
“We have to send a clear message to the public about what they should do,” said Legislator Amy Sayegh, chair of the Legislature’s Health Committee. “If on the one hand we are telling them to stay home and keep their school aged children home, how can we then tell them to drop their little ones at daycare?”
Residents who have any questions about whether their business should be opened or closed in an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections should direct their questions to the governor’s office.
County Executive Odell and the Putnam County Legislature will continue to focus on the health and safety of our county’s residents.