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Texas Day Cares Are Closing Just When Some Parents Need Them More Than Ever

Heather Martinez now takes every child’s temperature at the door to Happy Octopus Early Education, the day care she runs from her home in Corpus Christi, following a new state regulation for child care centers issued as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Texas.

She disinfects tables, sanitizes toys and requires parents to stand outside the door at pick up and drop off each day. But she worries the new rules are not enough to keep everyone healthy: It’s hard to stop infants from putting toys in their mouths, let alone expect them to stay six feet away from one another.

“I know they want us to practice social distancing. But these little ones don’t even understand the concept of personal space,” Martinez said.

Child care is becoming scarcer across Texas even as some working parents need it more desperately. At least 14% of Texas’ more than 17,000 licensed and registered facilities have closed, according to an informal state survey, and that number seems to be rising. There’s no count of how many unlicensed operations have shuttered.

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