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San Antonio child care center grapples with challenges of pandemic while supporting masks

More than 650 children at licensed child care centers in Bexar County have contracted the coronavirus since March 2020, according to state health data.

SAN ANTONIO — While the coronavirus shutdown scores of businesses, Marcela Espinoza opened up a child care center mid-pandemic.

“We take COVID very serious like any other virus,” Espinoza said, who owner and director of Tia’s Child Care Academy.

Espinoza’s family has worked in the child care industry for 17 years.

There’s no question the virus has changed how day care centers nationwide nurture children.

 “Definitely the Delta variant has been a huge conversation between our families to make sure that our kids are protected,” Espinoza said.

Tia’s Child Care Academy is able to accommodate a maximum of 34 children, although Espinoza and staff haven’t cared for that many kids at one time since opening in October.

Espinoza noted hiring staff has been a challenge at times. She recently hired two additional team members. 

“Now, let me do tell you that I did have some families after this Delta variant that decided that they were going to stay at home, that they weren’t going to bring their children anymore,” Espinoza said.

Espinoza confirmed with KENS 5 two children too young to get vaccinated, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The FDA has not given the greenlight for children 11 years old and younger to receive the vaccine pending ongoing trials.

Pfizer’s vaccine is now suitable for children ages 12-15, according to federal health officials.

State health data indicates more than 650 enrolled children at licensed child care centers across Bexar County have contracted the virus since March 2020.

Meanwhile, Marcela and her staff continue to follow state and federal guidelines to provide the safest learning environment possible.

“We do require for children 2 years and older to wear a mask. Also ask our staff, even if they’re vaccinated, to also wear their mask,” Marcela said.

Marcela and staff routinely disinfect surfaces, enforce social distancing when appropriate and encourage thorough hand washing.

Despite the political divide on masks, Espinoza stresses her support in face coverings to save lives.

“I think that masking is the most successful part of our program because we do provide masks here and the children bring masks from home. I think that has been a huge change for how we have done things in child care,” Espinoza said.

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