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Day care centers, preschools allowed to remain open during nonessential business closure period

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Posted at 11:15 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 16:53:55-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — One big challenge people are facing in this new way of living is what do we do with our kids.

Some people still have to work, so we checked into how day cares are handling the coronavirus threat.

Most daycare and preschools across the valley are remaining open.

The owner at Kids Are Us Academy was watching Governor Steve Sisolak's Tuesday evening address with baited breath, wondering if he was going to shut them down. But in allowing them to stay open, he acknowledged that daycare facilities are an essential business for many.

RELATED: National, state coronavirus coverage

Though many classrooms at Kids Are Us are quiet and the playground eerily empty, the family-owned and operated daycare is still providing a vital service.

Owner Kim Helaire-Smith is grateful the governor gets that.

"And he said day cares can be open and I was like, sigh of relief, but then, ok, I’m still exposing myself and my staff. I’m kind of conflicted about it but I know those people need to be out there fighting this battle in this crisis. So I’m willing to be like a first responder as well and be here to help take care of their kids while they’re out there taking care of us."

Most of the kids in her care have parents who work in the medical profession.

"And then I got called from United Healthcare yesterday and they’re looking to place their children as well."

There's a coronovirus information board right up front in the lobby and the new protocol is to restrict kids to their age group classrooms. No more gathering in the center's family room. And separation to the extent that you can keep kids apart.

"As they come in we take their temperature, we tell them to wash their hands. Parents have to wash their hands--don’t even touch the clock-in station until you’ve cleaned up."

They have lost clients who work at the airport, in casinos, schools and salons. The few rooms open only have about six to eight kids. Hardly what's normal.

"What’s normal is it's busy at Kids Are Us. We usually are having anywhere between 80-90 kids a day that are coming in here and the most we got up to today was 30."

Even though they're operating with only about half the kids that they normally have, Helaire-Smith says they are still to this day getting new enrollments.

Her intent is to weather what she calls a quiet and scary storm, but as long as the little ones need them, they're here to help.

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