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Daycare providers react to new mask requirement for children age 2 and older

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Daycare providers say the state is kicking them when they’re already down. Kids 2 and older now have to wear masks at daycare. And that’s just one change in the new 23-page set of guidelines.

The kids have yet to arrive at Treehouse Daycare in Watertown, but Autumn Niswonger has already put in hours of work - switching sleeping mats from 2-feet to 6.

“That took about 45 minutes to an hour,” she said.

And her day is about to get busier. Governor Cuomo sent out 23-pages worth of new guidance for daycares and summer camps. In that guidance, along with social distancing, all kids over 2 have to wear masks.

“Cuomo says we’re through the worst of it, and now here we are saying these kids have to wear masks,” said Mandy Burt, owner, Treehouse Daycare.

Some say it’s a potential safety hazard.

“What if a child sneaks something into their mouth that they’re not supposed to have and we don’t know? What if their lips are starting to go blue or their lips are puffy? We can’t see that,” she said.

Senator Patty Ritchie calls the move “illogical.” She says forcing children over the age of 2 to wear a mask, when they haven’t for more than a year, simply doesn’t make sense.

At Natasha’s Kiddie Shack Daycare Center, they’re trying to make sense of it all.

“I feel like we’ve been this far, and we’ve done extra cleaning and sanitizing, social distancing as much as possible. We haven’t had one COVID case in our infant, toddler, or preschool rooms,” said Natasha Bura, owner, Natasha’s Kiddie Shack Daycare Center.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words. If the picture above tells us anything, it’s that the mask wearing can be tough to enforce.

“It’s been a power struggle already today. I’ve had one toddler out of 10 be able to keep their mask on,” said Bura.

Governor Cuomo said during a press conference on Thursday. The state is willing to work with childcare providers to help. He says these changes are federal guidelines based on the science.

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