San Mateo County's essential workers who need child care can now send their kids to Laurel School Lower Campus in Atherton Monday through Friday.
Starting Monday, April 6, the Menlo Park City School District and Newton Center are offering emergency child care to essential workers working or living in the county during the shelter-in-place order, which runs until May 3, according to a school district press release. Thirty spots, for children ages 3 to 13, will initially be offered to frontline hospital workers, public school teachers and public safety officer, said Parke Treadway, the district’s public information officer, in an email.
The program is being offered with no formal tuition rate for the time being thanks to donations from Newton families and others, a Newton employee said. Families are asked to pay whatever amount they can afford. The suggested tuition rate is $400 per child weekly.
The program aims to support children in completing distance learning school assignments and offering an academic, productive afternoon so that their first-responder parents can focus on supporting the community during this time, the school district's website states.
"The county was looking for places to host emergency child care and approached us as an option," Treadway said. "In addition, our afterschool partners Newton Center were looking to keep as many of their workers employed as possible. Partnering with Newton to make this resource available is a win-win. We are providing the space and the daily cleaning by our custodial staff."
Newton will run the emergency child care under the guidelines of the San Mateo County Health Department for mitigating risk of children, families and child care workers contracting the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. (The Newton Center offers after-school care at Bay Area elementary campuses during normal school operations.)
There will be no more than 10 children per room, Treadway said. A room in the Early Learning Center preschool is being used for younger children, a small multi-purpose room is being used for school-age children and the art room will be used for older groups, she said. There won't be mixing of kids and staff from each room, she said.
If additional spots in the program become available, they will be offered to all remaining categories of essential workers, Treadway said. Essential businesses allowed to operate under the order include health care operations; businesses that provide food, shelter and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged; fresh and non-perishable food retailers; pharmacies; child care facilities; gas stations; banks; laundry businesses and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence.
To get a spot, parents and guardians may fill out an application, which will be reviewed to verify eligibility as an essential worker.
The campus is located at 95 Edge Road in Atherton. Registrations will be offered in one-week increments. Drop-in child care will not be offered.
For more details about the program, including precautions, the daily schedule and activities offered, go to the school district’s COVID-19 Essential Worker Child care webpage COVID-19 Essential Worker Childcare webpage. Email Newton at [email protected] with further questions.
The county is working with the 4C's of San Mateo County, which provides referrals and resources related to child care and preschool services, on a survey to identify the needs of essential workers, said County Manager Mike Callagy during a Tuesday, April 7, press call with reporters. The survey is being provided in English, Spanish and Chinese.
Kate Bradshaw contributed to this report
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.