WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The rising COVID-19 cases are taking a toll on businesses and schools. Wichita Public Schools put out a notice saying a shutdown could be on the way. This, coupled with some daycares forced to close temporarily — has parents scrambling for child care.
Bernadean Norwood said when her kids had to go remote earlier in the pandemic, she was able to work the night shift to be with her kids during the day. But now she has a different job that doesn’t have that option. So she, like many parents, is scrambling to find a place for her kids.
“It’s not the school district’s fault because they’re trying to figure it out,” Norwood explained. “I know they’re short-staffed and stressed out, but I just kind of hope they keep in mind that some of us parents need to send our kids to school.”
Another problem for parents, daycare facilities are also being impacted. For example, the Open Arms Child Development Center at Ascension Lutheran Church closed its doors this week.
“We had a staff member get sick and stay at home,” said Ascension Lutheran Church Outreach and Evangelism Pastor Aaron Hannemann. “Got tested, turned out positive, then it kind of cascaded. I think we’re up to five or six not that have tested positive.”
One reason Open Arms had to close, they were already without around 10 daycare employees due to labor shortages, leaving less room for error when it comes to staff missing time.
“I know this is everywhere,” Hannemann added. “Everybody is trying to get more workers, and that is the conundrum.”
Hannemann says Open Arms is expecting to re-open its doors on Jan. 24.
The Kansas Board of Education announced Wednesday that they are dropping the 60 credit hour requirement to become a substitute teacher.
“It now allows people that are age 18 and older to go out to our website and complete the application,” said Sean Hudspeth, USD 259 chief human resources officer.
This now opens a new pool of employees for USD 259 and others to help keep their doors open.
“It’s going to attract and hopefully fill a lot of vacancies for the rest of this semester,” Hudspeth added.
For Norwood, she’s hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.
“It makes you wonder like, ‘Am I going to be able to keep my job if school shuts down? What am I really going to do?’ Because I wouldn’t have an option but to keep my kids at home.”