Child Care Providers Must Continue to Protect Children and Staff In Climate of Confusing and Contradictory State Guidance.

Sprouting Star Children’s Academy is committed to doing everything possible to maintain the health and safety of the children in our care. We have been receiving mixed communications about what is truly required from State agencies. At this time, Sprouting Star believes that current control procedures are still necessary to protect the health and safety of the children and our staff, and will continue to implement our Safer Choice for Funtm (see https://sproutingstar.org/2020/05/10/summer2020/) unchanged. Drop-off and Pick-up procedures, entry screening, portioning of family style meals, emergency hours of operation, and all other procedures remain unchanged.

On Friday, June 12, 2020 at 4:47pm, we received the following communication from Texas Health and Human Services:

Message from Texas Health and Human Services Child Care Regulation, sent to Child Care providers on June 12, 2020 at 4:47pm

This message was most confusing. Within 24 hours of receiving this message, the following Facebook advertisement, sponsored by Texas Health and Human Services was seen:

Facebook advertisement by Texas Health and Human Services received on Saturday, June 13, 2020 at approximately 9:00am.

This leaves Sprouting Star scratching our organizational heads on what the government is actually trying to tell us regarding the necessary procedures to protect the health and safety of the children and our staff. The confusion is amplified by the fact that Child Care Regulation is a department of the Texas Health and Human Services, and therefore these two messages are coming out of the same State organization.

Sprouting Star President, John Russo, participated in a live zoom conference with Texas Workforce Director of Child Care and the Area Director of Texas Health and Human Services on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 1PM. The purpose of this conversation was to explore funding options for the continued implementation of these very restrictive COVID-19 control procedures outlined in the additional resources attached to the June 12th repeal letter. While acknowledging that many of the COVID-19 control procedures will not be enforced, there was expressed no disagreement that control procedures are needed.

This has Sprouting Star very concerned that simply following the implied guidance of the message repealing the emergency procedures at this time will leave our children and staff at unnecessary risk. And therefore we will continue to implement these procedures unchanged. Further, we have a general social concern that the withdrawal of enforcement of these regulations could potentially have an unequal and unjust impact on diverse communities in Texas, especially as government assistance to centers that serve these communities is being simultaneously withdrawn in concert with the repeal of emergency orders. This concern regarding the justice of State policy was communicated by Sprouting Star President, John Russo at the June 12th meeting with the State representatives.

So what is the truth? We have researched the current COVID-19 statistics for the immediate Austin area today, and we find the following:

KVUE report of Texas COVID-19 Hospitalizations as of June 12, 2020.

The same day Texas Health and Human Services announced a repeal of emergency orders to protect our children and staff, the hospitalization of serious COVID-19 victims has reached a record high. We at Sprouting Star are not able to reconcile the apparent divergence in the repealing of the protective orders and the increase in virus cases in our State. We are confused by this action, and we do not feel it is in the best interests of the health and safety of all Texas children. We have therefore decided to continue with the control procedures and The Safer Choice for Fun program until we are confident this crisis has passed.

We appreciate any feedback from our parents and families regarding this important issue. We will continue to do the best we can to protect the health and safety of the children and staff in these very uncertain and confusing times.

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