NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Although daycare and child care facilities are considered essential and can stay open amid the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses are seeing parents opting out of the service even though space is available.
Sue and Bill Munson, owners of Leaps'n Bounds Preschool on Trinity Lane, said the number of children they serve dropped from 70 in the first week of March down to 22 this week. Their facility even got approval to serve children between grades 6 and 12, but there were never any calls made.
"They're not coming," Sue told NewsChannel 5. "We've even seen essential workers pulling their children to stay with a close family member."
She said the primary reasons are fear their children will contract the virus or parents have lost their jobs.
The state plans to announce $10 million of grants to help child care facilities and loosened some restrictions including pushing back inspections. However, the Munsons fear lack of attendance will only reduce hours and affect their workers who rely on the income.
On top of the dwindling number of students, workers are becoming fearful and question going to work. Some of their employees are older and have underlying health issues.
"We got staff fearful to come to work even though they know we're essential," Bill said.
Along with a dip in customers, 'panic buying' is affecting how they operate. The owners said they buy certain items like paper towels, but they're having to improvise along the way to keep up with supplies.
"Our menus have needed to change but people are hoarding," Bill said. "People who don't know us, the other shoppers in the store, think we're snatching all the stuff."
Leaps'n Bounds plans to open for at least the rest of the week. They'll pay their employees as long as they can but have already encouraged them to look at unemployment benefits.