Parents still frustrated with NYS COVID-19 guidance for child care providers

*This story has been updated since originally posted to clarify quarantine requirements for children under the age of 2.*

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – Working parents with kids in daycare who were hoping for a reprieve from New York State’s quarantine rules didn’t quite get it. While the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) did put out new guidance for childcare providers on Tuesday evening, and it wasn’t what many were hoping for.

Colleen’s 3-year-old son is normally in daycare but- COVID-19 exposures are continually keeping him home and her out of work

“He’s missed seven weeks at this point and he’s been healthy the entire time, it just doesn’t seem fair,” she says.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke first spoke with Colleen and other frustrated moms about NYS’s COVID rules for childcare providers last week, she then took their concerns straight to Governor Kathy Hochul.

On May 23, Governor Hochul said, “now that we have test kits so widely available that parents can test their kids I don’t think the 10-day quarantine is necessary that we can just say yes, you can just test to get back in so, I’ve directed the Department of Health and our Office of Child and Family Services to come out with a plan that works better for our families.”

But when that plan was released last night.

“The only thing I can see that’s different is it changes when he comes back from quarantine that he should wear a mask not that he must wear a mask and that’s really the only change I can see,” Colleen says.

The quarantine period is now 5 days for all kids aged birth to 4 in daycare who are exposed to COVID19.

There is still no option for tests to stay if they’re not showing any symptoms.

"How about if we have an exposure then everyone over two has to wear a mask or maybe they have to test at home every day before they get sent in for five days, we have testing options so readily available now and it just feels like we’re not using all the resources that we have,” Colleen says.

This is even more infuriating for parents with kids in daycare.

"An unvaccinated 5-year-old in kindergarten if they have an exposure they are exempt from any quarantine but a 4-year-old in pre-K with the same exposure would have to quarantine so, it’s just inconsistent it doesn’t seem like it makes sense,” adds Colleen.

The Childcare Council understands the frustration.

“The changes really, well, they really weren’t that drastic,” says Executive Director Jeff Pier. But he says providers have no choice but to follow what the state demands even when it’s burdensome for them too

“Child care providers, they’re used to these regulations and things changing pretty swiftly,” he says. “They’re handling it, it is difficult…difficult just in staffing and to get enough staff to staff a full center and then to add on top of it ensuring that children returning from exposures or returning from having COVID are wearing a mask,” he tells News10NBC.

A spokeswoman for the NYSOCFS tells News10NBC that test-to-stay has not been evaluated in daycares by the CDC. They said the following:

“The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is pleased to offer additional flexibility for providers and families to shorten the time spent away from child care while still maintaining safety for others. In alignment with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OCFS’s policy allows for a student participating in a test-to-stay program at school to also attend any necessary before or after school child care. In collaboration with the state Department of Health, we continue to monitor and assess for any additional flexibility that can help families.”