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As schools close, child-care centers urged to stay open in Minnesota

""Now more than ever we need you to come together and help us."

With all K-12 public schools in Minnesota closing by Wednesday through Friday, March 28 because of the coronavirus outbreak, many parents are wondering what will happen to child-care centers they utilize daily. 

At this time, there is no recommendation from Minnesota authorities for home-based daycares or any child-care settings to close. 

"The governor is not asking child-care centers to close. He's asking them to remain open wherever for possible," said Steve Grove, commissioner fo the employment and economic department. 

"Child care is a critical support for our workforce, particularly with the given challenges that we face today. The reason for that is the kind of guidance you're hearing from Commission [Jan] Malcolm and the Department of Health really applies to these larger settings." 

The department of health has advised Minnesotans to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing, which is based on the idea that an exposure to a person carrying COVID-19 is any time a person comes within 6-8 feet of an infected person for 10 or more minutes. 

"Child-care centers are very different in that sense, they are smaller settings. Also, this is a two-week planning period," Grove added, referring to the school shutdown that will allow districts time to plan for distance learning if a longer statewide schools closure is needed. 

"The planning period is for schools who are going to need to offer distance learning. Child-care centers are not going to need to offer distance learning if further guidance is issued for them to close do, so we do urge child care centers to stay open." 

Grove pressed the point further, closing by saying "Now more than ever we need you to come together and help us ensure that workers can navigate this difficult time."

During the statewide schools closure, districts will provide child care for parents who are emergency first responders and health care workers. 

As is the case with everyone, the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly evolving and guidance from state health officials for child-care centers could change in time. For now, staying open is the recommended decision. 

The latest information from the department of health says there are 35 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, which represents an increase of 14 since Saturday and 30 more since Wednesday. 

Commissioner Malcolm reiterated Saturday that youth under the age of 19 are at a lower risk to contract COVID-19. 

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