Two-year-old Ella is the center of her parents’ world. They would do anything for her. So, like other parents during the coronavirus pandemic, their attention turned to doing what was best for her –– protecting her and meeting her day-to-day needs. The twist is, both parents are essential workers.
Luke Alexander is a first responder with the Rowan County Emergency Services. “I knew what I would be doing after the coronavirus hit North Carolina.”
Alexander is a paramedic with Rowan’s Emergency Medical Services. It is his job to provide first-aid treatment and life support care to sick and injured people, often entering homes to provide help. His service is essential and places him on the frontline during the pandemic. The county is one of the state’s hardest hit.
Jessica Hall is the administrative assistant at Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Fleshman-Pratt Weekday Education Center in Thomasville.
On April 1, BCH’s two premier weekday education centers, Fleshman-Pratt and Robert Idol Child Development Center, began offering childcare to essential workers designated as an Emergency Childcare Provider. Only licensed childcare programs that have met additional health and safety protocols and satisfied other requirements specified by North Carolina’s Division of Child Development and Early Education are authorized as emergency providers.
“We knew Luke was an essential worker,” Hall remembers. “When we received our status as an Emergency Childcare Provider, I knew I would be working, too. All of us at the Centers became essential workers.”
The couple’s daughter Ella one of the first children, birth to 12 years old, to attend BCH’s weekday education program under the coronavirus emergency status.
“There was never going to be an option for us not to be at work,” Alexander asserts, “so without BCH caring for Ella, we would have needed to look for alternative arrangements –– on top of all that we are doing on our jobs and all that was happening with COVID-19.”
BCH childcare centers were prepared with many of the necessary protocols in place. Leaders ramped up what they were already doing, enhancing protocols that only allowed center staff to enter the buildings, increasing frequency of taking temperatures, and performing health checks daily.
Staff members are well trained in dealing with everything from viruses to blood borne pathogens to abiding by routines that prevent children from spreading infections.
Ella’s parents’ lives have changed drastically. They are constantly aware of possible exposure to COVID-19. But while at work, both abide by rigid protocols as they do their jobs. Because of their world, the couple needed their daughter’s world to be less topsy turvy.
“It has been important for us to keep Ella’s schedule as close to normal as possible,” Hall says. “In fact, Ella’s life has changed very little and that has helped us so much as parents. Things are less stressful because we know she is safe and in good hands. Because of BCH, Luke and I are less fearful as we serve the people who need us. It has meant everything –– we are so thankful.”