Three Wilkes County child care centers had closed due to the coronavirus as of Tuesday, said Susan Cogdill, executive director of Wilkes Community Partnership for Children (Wilkes Smart Start).

Cogdill said Kindercare, Wilkes Developmental Day School and Playwork Early Care and Learning Center temporarily closed their doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. Those facilities serve a total of 181 children, she said.

The remaining six privately-owned daycare centers in Wilkes, serving over 300 children, had until Tuesday to apply to continue operations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Cogdill anticipated that the remaining centers would complete the special application to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The application details the health, screening, safety and operational requirements for remaining open or reopening to provide emergency child care to critical workers.  There is a financial assistance package for providers and qualified families, said Cogdill.

Cogdill said that Stacy Daniels, child development specialist, and Kirstin Roberts, child care health consultant, have been assigned to assist with the state application duty. “They are quite busy with phone calls, texts and emails as they assist the child care center.”

Cogdill said Tuesday that the child care centers that remain open need the following supplies: Lysol wipes or spray, toilet paper, baby wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer. To donate supplies, send a message to susan@wilkeschildren.org.

The Wilkes Family YMCA was planning to serve as a child care center for children of emergency medical personnel and others categorized as essential employees, but that is no longer happening, said Caroline Whitson, Wilkes YMCA executive director, on Monday.

When Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro and Ronda prohibited mass gatherings of 10 or more people on March 25, the Wilkes Y lost its eligibility to host a summer camp, as per Wilkes County Health Department guidelines, according to Whitson.

Whitson said it was her understanding that Wilkes County Schools will operate the emergency child care center “once it is deemed necessary” and that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has “provided the guidelines and resources for them to do so.”

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