Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Trying to comprehend childcare during a pandemic July 12, 2020

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 12:23 am

Hi. It’s me again. Yeah, I’ve been busy since my last post. When I foolishly assumed I could just “power through” and try to balance working from home with my husband and two young kids during a pandemic.

The kids are wearing pajamas during the day a lot more. My 4 year old tried cutting her bangs with the “kiddie scissors”. We’ve basically got PBS Kids and Disney+ playing on the TV nonstop.

And again, I have to remind myself how lucky we are at the moment. We’re healthy. We both still have our jobs and we’re both able to work from home. I know I’ll have to go back on site “at some point” to get back into the lab for some research, but my employer is encouraging most of us to work from home if at all possible.

Daycare sent us an email letting us know they’d be “reopening” at the end of August, with a re-enrollment starting at the beginning of August, with “first come first served” priority as well as a priority for full-time care, since they will have fewer spots available due to the new requirements imposed on childcare centers.

And I have no idea what we should do.

These past few months have been exhausting. Physically, emotionally. We’re both taking care of the kids, but my husband keeps getting invited to one work call after another, and so my somewhat flexible work schedule means I’m doing a lot more of the parenting during the day.

My prime working hours end up being after the kids are in bed, when I finally get some quiet time where I can focus. I can still get some work done during the day, but if there’s any work that needs lots of concentration, it will have to wait until then (unless my husband lucks out and can get out of hours of meetings so he can be with the kids while I find a quiet place to work in the house. But the kids still try to seek me out.)

But I’m not really okay with sending my kids to daycare. For every article claiming that “the kids will be fine”, I see plenty more pointing out how much we still don’t know about this disease, and its long term effects. We can’t guarantee that the kids will be fine, and we definitely can’t guarantee that they won’t transmit the virus to each other, the teachers and staff, or family members when they get back home.

I’m afraid for all my family and friends who are teachers, who may be forced to go back to working in the schools before it’s safe. I’m afraid for everyone who could be exposed to this virus unnecessarily because “we have to send them to school no matter what”.

And I completely understand that so many parents are trying to figure out what to do, and may have no choice but to send their kids to school. They need to work, the kids need care and teaching.

And many of you who have followed me for awhile know how pro-daycare I am. When we had our second kid, we still felt it was the right choice to send them to daycare, after considering the financial, emotional, and social impacts.

But right now I’m still trying to figure out how we can continue to “power through”. I know it’s not sustainable, and I’ve been finding myself burning out. In “normal times” I’d be sending them to daycare. But these are not normal times. There’s a highly contagious virus out there that we could catch. It could make us very sick. Or worse. Or we could transmit it to others who could fare worse than us.

So, what’s our plan when they send out the “welcome back!” email?

I have no idea.


3 Responses to “Trying to comprehend childcare during a pandemic”

  1. This was me before we got the email from school. This was me plus a nervous wreck worth of anxiety and anger and frustration after we got the email.

    I am formulating plans but it feels almost futile and it’s so frustrating that after three to four months the choices we make are so heavily dictated by the poor choices of others.


  2. SP Says:

    I sent my kid back on July 1, and so far, no qualms, despite rising cases. I figure it will be easier to pull her out if I get nervous than to get her back in if I forgo it in the near term. I was dying, and as you point out, “powering through” is something that has to be finite in duration. So, I strongly encourage you to do SOMETHING, even if it is not daycare.

    I’m going to put a link to some recent info in a separate comment (in case spam filter catches it). I also found some of the info from Emily Oster interesting, although she is not a medical professional so we should keep that in mind.


  3. SP Says:

    Here is a recent summary of the data so far on child transmission of COVID-19 from UCSF Grand Rounds that was posted in a local parents group:

    I admittedly haven’t even watched the whole thing yet, but someone else posted some takeaways, which I’ll copy paste below. Sorry for the long comment, but thought it was quite useful.

    – Everything is changing all the time, as more data comes out, our understanding of the disease will change. So remember our schools and our communities have to continue to be flexible.
    – It is imperative that parents, teachers, children and administrators all collaborate together to make the schools as safe as possible. What is good for teachers is good for students. The goal is to be equitable and safe
    – Kids transmit and get the virus less than adults probably because they have less of the ACE-2 receptor in their upper airways which is how the virus gets into our bodies
    – When they do get it, they are often less ill than adults.
    – Children most often get the disease from an adult, often from household contacts.
    – Children do not seem to be major sources of transmission to each other and to adults (in kids <10 years old). However it is possible for kids to transmit to each other (in a Swiss study, 43% of other kids in households got sick, where as 85% of adults got it from kids).
    – Transmission is different for elementary school vs. high school. It is lower risk in elementary school. But it is the same risk in highschoolers as in adults (and probably middle school but we don’t know as much)
    Schools should be able to open safely in a community that has virus transmission under control with proper testing/tracing going on.
    – Highschoolers (and probably middle schoolers) transmit the virus more like adults and there have been several outbreaks in kids 13 years and older, much less data for kids age 11-13. It is unclear if they behave like adults or kids.
    – Kids <10 can get COVID-19 (3% of kids <10 years in harder hit places), can get it from other adults, very little to no child to child transmission (Less than 10 years old) transmission has been observed in the literature so far. That is good news. It doesn't mean it can't happen in schools.
    – In schools the risk of teacher to teacher transmission and teacher to student transmission is higher than of student to student transmission.
    – There is almost no data in daycares/preschools. (She briefly mentioned the outbreak in oregon and texas. I have read more into this and the Texas cases it may be community spread. There has also been an Oregon outbreak in daycare that does seem to have asymptomatic kid to kid transmission that then went home to parents, but very little information out there and it is all from news sources.)
    – Kids are often asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms. So regular testing is going to be important in the school setting for even the vaguest of symptoms .


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