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Area daycares reopen after COVID-19 closure

NATCHEZ — For three months, First Presbyterian Playschool and Hansel and Gretel Child Development Center remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of this week, both of the daycares are reopened, joining two other daycares that have remained open throughout the pandemic.

Daycares in Natchez have to follow guidelines given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including not allowing any parent into the building, checking temperatures of both children and adults before they enter, bringing children into the building themselves and cleaning the facility more often.

Aretha Davis, Director of First Presbyterian Playschool, said her daycare reopened on Thursday.

“I’m glad that we are opened for all of the workers and families,” Davis said. “It is important to have a daycare open to have all of our essential workers return back to work without having to worry about who is going to watch their kids.”

On Thursday, there were 12 kids at First Presbyterian Playschool, which normally has approximately 70 children in the daycare, Davis said.

Sue Harvey, owner of Hansel and Gretel Child Development Center, said she reopened on June 1.

Before the pandemic, Harvey said her daycare had approximately 72 children up until March 17.

“We are having to downsize so I couldn’t get all of my children back,” Harvey said. “I did have to increase my rates due to that in order to keep all of my personnel and not having to cut their salaries. I like the smaller amount and it’s not hurting us.”

Unlike other daycares, Adams County Christian School summer daycare will remain closed in June and does not have a plan to reopen, a spokesperson said.

While some daycares had to shut their doors during the pandemic, Crowns and Tiaras Academy and Little Blessings Daycare remained open.

Celeste Maples, owner of Crowns and Tiaras Academy, said before the pandemic in March, her facility had 41 children. Now, she has 12 children.

“We lost a couple of kids due to their parents staying at home,” Maples said.

Rhonda McElroy, owner of Little Blessings Daycare, said two weeks ago there were fewer than 16 children in her daycare.

Since being reopened, McElroy said approximately 31-32 children are in the daycare.

“I was really glad that we stayed open,” McElroy said. “I knew that we had several parents that don’t have family here that could take care of their children, because they have to go to work. The majority of our parents work in some field of healthcare and they were considered to be essential. I feel like daycares perform a necessary service.”