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Minn. parents contend with ‘revolving door’ of child care quarantines

Minn. parents contend with 'revolving door' of child care quarantines
Written by Publishing Team

Minnesota has clarified its suggestions for managing COVID-19 in state-licensed child care centers as providers, parents and employers struggle to cope with a new record wave of coronavirus infections.

The councils are relaxing a 10-day quarantine requirement which some parents say has sent their children home again and again, but others say it has helped keep their children safe. It’s the latest development in what is now a long-running battle for families raising children who cannot yet be vaccinated.

“We are a revolving door of quarantines. This is our life,” said Hillary Boyce-Schimpff, a public health nurse in Duluth, at home with her 4-year-old son Hank who has COVID and his 3-year-old brother Ollie. Ollie will probably spend about four days of this month. right to go to daycare.

“He left for a few more days in December. At least six.

After more than a year, with COVID parenthood at least within sight of being manageable, omicron has the wheels coming off for families across Minnesota. A record number of confirmed cases triggered not so much serious illness, but strict precautions. The CDC had recommended a full 10-day quarantine for close contact with a confirmed case for unvaccinated people — which children under 5 cannot be.

Boyce-Schimpff says her kids aren’t in daycare and with their cousins ​​at Grandma’s house so much, they even have a name for it.

“We regularly have quarantine camp with my retired mom,” Boyce-Schimpff said.

And like thousands of other parents, she reluctantly welcomes the news this week that the Minnesota Department of Social Services is reducing this quarantine, in at least some cases, to as little as five days – which could increase the risk of COVID. , but get to at least one step closer to normal.

“And know that we’re going to work the next day,” Duluth’s mother said.

For other parents, it’s mortifying. While expensive, quarantines have seemed like the little protection they could get for children who can’t get vaccinated and barely wear pants, let alone a mask, and may have underlying health issues. underlyings.

Elizabeth Done is an educational trainer who lives in Wayzata with a 3-year-old daughter in daycare. Done gets the need to go back to work. But she fears it will be the children who are paying the price for the quarantine halving.

“So that makes me quite nervous.”

She wonders if Minnesota is giving up, letting parents try their luck with COVID — whoever they are.

“You never know if your child is going to be the one who shouldn’t be in danger, but ends up being like this,” Done said.

Clare Sanford is a board member of the Minnesota Child Care Association and says the change puts providers in an agonizing dilemma.

“Most of the providers I’ve worked with have struggled over the last few days to decide what’s the best balance they can strike for families who are desperate and they’re really desperate. You know, they’re losing jobs. They worry about keeping their kids housed and fed when they can’t work week in and week out because of these quarantines,” Sanford said.

Lily Crooks is the director of the Seward Child Care Center in Minneapolis, with about 30 children. She says it’s disconcerting, just as COVID is exploding again, that vendors who have watched the science — as they’ve been told — suddenly have to start making judgments.

“We are not epidemiologists or public health experts, are we. And you want to have a hard and fast rule. And there isn’t, actually,” Crooks said. “But at the same time, nobody wants to get sick, everyone wants to be safe.”

She says the federal child care tax credit is ending this month, parents are running out of sick days and employers looking to get back to normal are weighing on parents.

Other parents say it shouldn’t even be a choice.

Kayla Meyers is a mother of a toddler in St. Louis Park. The child has been quarantined 38 of the last 66 days. A nonprofit researcher, she cashed in on paid vacation and sick leave, changed jobs, and whatever else she could think of.

“You know, I wish I even had the bandwidth to think about whether this is the right decision for my child’s health and safety in terms of COVID,” Meyers said, “but at the end of the day, I don’t I don’t have the other media necessary to make these options still possible.”

She says it’s a symptom of a system that simply fails families no matter how long quarantines should or shouldn’t last.

“We can’t even contemplate what is necessary to keep children safe at this stage.”

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