Dallas ISD opening two of their schools to provide free childcare for frontline workers

For many frontline workers, finding reliable childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge.

To help them out, Dallas ISD is now teaming up with a couple of non-profits to give the kids a safe place to stay while their parents are at work.

The goal is to take some of the stress off frontline workers who are in desperate need of childcare. Dallas ISD is now transforming two of its campuses into childcare centers.

The non-profits will staff the classrooms.

The best part is it’s free.

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For the first time in weeks, some Dallas ISD educators were back in the classroom to set up Onesimo Hernandez Elementary School as one of two daycare centers for children of first responders and frontline healthcare workers.

“This is what we love to do in early learning. We're all about supporting young children,” said Kimberlee Bassa, DISD early learning specialist.

Beginning on Wednesday, kids in pre-k to 3rd grade can be dropped off at the school for free childcare.

Their temperatures will be checked before entering the building, and parents won't be allowed inside.

“So when you think of children coming together in an environment, their natural purpose is to gravitate towards one another. So we had to put some things in place to maintain that social distancing,” said Lisa Vega, who is principal at Montessori Academy at Onesimo Hernandez Elementary. “So you can see on the carpet we designated with tape so when children come down to do a read aloud with the teacher, they're able to maintain that separation.”

Employees from the non-profit Big Thought will staff six of the classrooms at the school.

Both sites -- the other will be at Cesar Chavez Learning Center --  will operate on a first come, first served basis, with a maximum of 50 students per site.

“At the end of the day, it'll be the charge of the adults to maintain that wiping down tables and chair, using disinfectant, making sure rooms are ready for the very next day,” Vega said.

Cleaning crews will also do a deep cleaning every night.

The students will be provided with three meals and two snacks per day.

The hope is to restore some normalcy to the children's lives, while their parents are on the frontlines of this pandemic.

“They want to see someone who looks like them, who sounds like them, that enjoys the same things that they do. This is a chance for them to socialize,” Bassa added.

“I'm just proud of DISD that we were able to contribute and give back,” Vega said.

The YMCA will staff the childcare center at Cesar Chavez Learning Center, located off Carroll Ave. That one opens on Monday.

Both will operate from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and be free of charge.

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