LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — Some parents are outraged after the New York State Department of Health announced new rules for daycare centers and summer camps.
According to DOH officials, child care facilities—as well as day and overnight camps—must implement several new rules they say helps protect against COVID-19. This includes collecting the vaccination status of all staff members and children, creating a capacity limit that will keep everyone six feet apart, and requiring all children over 2-year-olds to wear face masks most of the day.
According to the new guidelines, kids 2 and up may take off their masks when eating, drinking, showering, swimming, sleeping/resting, and when they’re unable to tolerate a face-covering during outdoor physical activities.
Kelly Kronbeck is the president of Imagination Station, a child care facility with several locations throughout the state. She said she was shocked to receive the 23-page-long guidance overview from the state Wednesday since the last time she received an update from them was last July. She also said that now, she’s concerned about the children in her care.
“My heart breaks for all of our little ones in our program,” she said. “Anyone who has worked in a 2-year-old room knows you can barely keep their shoes on. How are you going to keep a mask on these children for nine hours? It’s ridiculous if you ask me.”
And many are pointing out the irony of the timing these rules were released: the same day most mask restrictions for vaccinated New Yorkers were lifted statewide.
“I could have understood if they wanted to put this policy in place 14 months ago when this started. Sure, I’m all for that,” said Andy Smith, who has two young children in child care. “You want to lift restrictions in New York State for vaccinated people to not wear masks, and now you want to enforce it on kids who are two and older? The timeline just doesn’t match up.”
Smith has spoken with an attorney and started a GoFundMe in the hopes of eventually suing the state to get rid of these new restrictions. “Whatever we can do to try and get to the bottom of this and fight for our kids. We’re the ones that can fight for our kids because they can’t fight for themselves,” Smith said.
Lawsuits might not be the only backlash the state faces following these new restrictions. Some daycare owners say they plan to hold rallies and are even thinking of closing down their facilities in protest against the state.