School districts stepping up to provide child care to essential workers

As the coronavirus spreads across the North Fork, schools and day care facilities have shut their doors, leaving children at home. Their parents, in most cases, remain home with them under an executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week.

But for parents working in “essential” fields: health care, first responders, grocery store employees and so on, the question of who will watch the kids remains.

Local school districts, in a partnership with Southold Town, are stepping up to ease that burden.

Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District, together with Champions, the child care provider for the district’s before- and after-care program, will launch a child care program for the children of doctors, nurses, police and first responders within the district on Tuesday. The program, held at Cutchogue East Elementary School, will run on an as-needed basis — if they have 10 or more students — from Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The school put a very good structure in place to offer child care for school-age children of first responders, medical professionals and others who work in fields vital to the response to combat this current crisis,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said.

The district is providing the staff and facility and the town is covering the cost per child, which is $35 per day, Mr. Russell said. The town may partner with Southold and Greenport on a similar program for families in those districts.

Greenport-Southold Superintendent David Gamberg announced Monday that the districts are surveying parents in those districts to gauge interest in a similar program.

“We are seeking to be responsive to the needs of essential personnel in our respective communities,” Mr. Gamberg said, adding that he hopes to collect responses by Wednesday. In the meantime, he said he is working with state agencies and exploring options with two providers to see what options are available for the districts.

To access the surveys for Southold and Greenport school districts:

Southold English:

Southold Spanish:

Greenport English:

Greenport Spanish:

For more information on Mattituck Cutchogue program, contact Gretchen Chapman at [email protected].