Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center Executive Director Katy Graves with children at the Center.
The Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center in East Hampton will reopen on Wednesday, March 25, to care for children of whom the state has termed “essential workers” — the only business employees allowed to work to under the “New York State on Pause” directive ordered by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday.
“Our center was contacted by representatives from the governor’s office, the Suffolk County executive’s office, and the East Hampton Town supervisor’s office asking if the center could open for what New York State has identified as ‘Essential Workers/Essential Business’ during this current state of emergency,” said the center’s executive director, Katy Graves, and its administrative director, Robyn Mott, in a letter issued on Monday.
“The center will follow these government offices’ call and open beginning Wednesday, March 25, for both our currently enrolled EWECC families and other families and caregivers who fall under the [state] list of ‘Essential Workers’ with school-age children in need of daycare.”
In a phone interview on Monday, Ms. Graves stressed that anyone hoping to use the center who is an “essential worker” will need to show some form of identification, whether it be a hospital identification tag or a letter from an employer, proving they fall into one of the categories the state has deemed essential.
This includes health care workers; those who work for utilities, airports and other transportation infrastructure; essential manufacturing, including agriculture; food and beverage stores, pharmacies, gas stations, restaurants and bars, and hardware stores; banks and financial institutions; law enforcement; news media; and more.
A full list of “essential workers” can be viewed at governor.ny.gov.
“We wanted to answer this call for help,” Ms. Graves said.
According to Ms. Mott, they are hoping to limit the center’s eight classroom spaces to 10 children each.
Germ prevention and staff training, said Ms. Graves, was scheduled to be held on Tuesday. She said the center also has reached out to government leaders for help in securing face masks and other protective garb for the center’s 15 staff members.
The center will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, according to Ms. Graves.
“On opening, and each day, every child will have a wellness check for fever or other signs of illness,” Ms. Graves and Ms. Mott wrote in a statement. “Parents will need to register their children by providing the child’s immunization records and two emergency contacts.”
The fee for childcare will be $60 daily or $300 per week.
On Monday, Ms. Graves said local school districts were contacting parents they believed fell into the “essential worker” category to give the center administration an idea of how many children it could expect.
Those in need of daycare services can contact Ms. Mott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are not anticipating huge numbers,” Ms. Graves said. “But we don’t want to have to have our nurses leave their children with grandparents. We need to know our police officers have support, we need to know our grocery store workers, who are offering early hours for seniors, are not burdened without child care options.”
She added, “I have to thank my staff for answering this call and need,” noting that the center is looking for monetary donations to support families with a food program. “We have talked to a number of our families, and they are facing real food insecurity — they are food fragile. We want to be able to get food to them.”
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