BOSTON (CBS) — Tracey Nardone has done everything to prepare to reopen her South Weymouth pre-school.

“We’ve gotten disinfecting wipes, bleach, we have the thermometers,” she said. “Childcare in general has a lot of health and safety protocols already in place. That part I’m ready for.”

But the longer Nardone’s business is closed, the more she fears she may not be ready to keep up with the changes.

“It makes me want to cry. I’ve poured my heart and soul on this,” she said.

Nardone is the owner and director of the Early Childhood Preschool & Learning Center. She’s been serving the South Shore community for 27 years and employs 21 people, all of whom have been furloughed.

For Nardone, operating with fewer children and more staff could mean taking on debt.

“Nobody knows what the future of childcare is going to look like. Not knowing that, how can I possibly take a loan out if I don’t know if I can pay it off?” she said.

In Massachusetts, childcare centers have been ordered closed until June 29. A recent analysis projects the Commonwealth could lose more than 50,000 childcare slots without government support in an extended shutdown.

On Monday, the state unveiled its four-tiered reopening plan, but missing from the memo were detailed guidelines for daycares.

“Folks are continuing to work on creating what we would call the appropriately safe operating model for childcare going forward,” said Gov. Charlie Baker during Monday’s briefing.

In the meantime, Baker said capacity at emergency centers will increase. Sec. of Housing Economic Development Mike Kennealy also urged employers continue to keep workers home to bridge the gap.

“Reducing the number of employees in the workplace reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission and will help reduce the number of employees that need to utilize public transit and childcare,” Kennealy said.

Single parents like Kylie Poirier, of Newton Highlands, say working from home is not an option.

“If my parents cannot take on the responsibility of watching my son, I am left with having to call out of work,” she said.

Bars, restaurants and gyms will also have to wait to open their doors.

“We were disappointed in being put in the Phase 3, into a category with casinos and museums, being a health and wellness facility,” said Ada Veasey McKenzie, co-owner of Cedardale Health and Fitness.

The Haverhill gym has been in business for 50 years, and the 150,000 sq. foot facility has been transformed to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Tape on the floor will outline safe distances between equipment and certain group fitness classes will happen inside its basketball courts.

The owners said if public health metrics stay on track, they hope the state revisits opening facilities sooner.

“Anyone involved in the fitness community really has been diligently putting together plans to try to create the safest environment possible,” said co-owner Carolyn Veasey Jackson. “We just really hope they reconsider.”

Anaridis Rodriguez


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