9 Investigates

How Central Florida day cares are being impacted by COVID-19

ORLANDO, Fla. — The coronavirus continues to hit local day cares. Earlier this month, four teachers tested positive at a Clermont day care.

9 Investigates started getting tips about other cases inside of child care facilities last week. Since then, Channel 9 investigative reporter Daralene Jones has been pushing the Florida Department of Health to release a complete list of all child care facilities in the state that have reported COVID-19 cases.

Channel 9′s attorney sent a letter demanding the information. So far, the Department of Health has refused to release the full list, citing the need for approval from leaders in Tallahassee.

READ: 4 teachers test positive at Lake County day care

On Monday, Channel 9 reached out to child care centers directly, and they were transparent and explained how they did everything they could to keep the virus out.

Dr. Dena Grayson said she believes this is a prelude to what parents should expect when school starts in just a few weeks.

Lake Forrest Preparatory School in Maitland said two workers tested positive, but so far no students have, although some are still being monitored. The school director said they paid for all employees to get tested as a precaution. They have a system in place for temperature checks, and one of the employees who tested positive had a normal temperature at the start of the workday.

The school closed immediately and reopened today. The school said some children who had direct exposure will remain out until Thursday.

Trinity Lutheran in downtown Orlando said a teacher and two children tested positive. They closed to clean and sanitize the campus. They said all but the two classrooms where the exposure happened are back open. The director said that prior to these cases, they had no issues with the virus, and they had even reduced the number of children on campus.

READ: Lake County pushes school start date back to Aug. 24

St. Vincent’s Angelican Academy in College Park said a child who was asymptomatic tested positive, but initial tests returned negative results. They also shut down temporarily, and are working to phase children and staff back onto campus.

College Park United Methodist said they also felt that they took all necessary precautions prior to experiencing the virus on campus. They have since received guidance from another child care facility that operates with children of parents in the health care industry on how handle future outbreaks.

Park Lake Presbyterian did not return Channel 9's calls for comment.

Kids R Kids of Bellalago in Kissimmee said one staff member had a slight cough, was tested as a precaution, and the results were positive. The director said the staff member had no contact with children. Staff still haven’t returned to the facility, but they are receiving pay.

The directors Channel 9 reached over the phone said they had been following CDC guidelines, some operating with limited enrollment to maintain social distance in classes. At some centers, confirmed cases involved adults and children, some of whom showed no symptoms.

Read: Florida high school athletes board to discuss start of fall season at emergency meeting

“It comes to a certain point that the day cares are not going to be able to do more than what they’re doing. I mean, I know, they’re all taking temperatures, in some situations twice a day. they’re not allowing adults in the building. Children are left in one area, restricting playground time,” Dr. Marla Robbins said.

Channel 9 first reached out to the Department of Health last Wednesday. Thursday, a spokesperson would only say epidemiology teams were monitoring just three local day cares, but would not provide the list of centers across the state reporting cases. 

Again Monday, Channel 9 was told approval has to come from the DOH communications team in Tallahassee.

“Just like we need transparency with the number of people hospitalized, the infections in our extended care facilities, we need transparency here. People need to make informed decisions,” Dr. Grayson said.

All but one of these facilities closed temporarily. Those that are back open are phasing students and staff back in over the next week. Parents have been notified, and one of the schools told us that it paid for all students and staff to be tested as a precaution.