Childcare business voluntarily shuts down for two weeks, further impacting essential workers

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A north St. Louis County childcare worker tested positive for COVID–19, shutting down another option for parents who still have to report to work. The owner spoke to Fox 2 about what she’s doing to protect her children and families.

Shiketa Morgan owns Learning Days Child Care Center near Interstate 270 and Lindbergh in Hazelwood.

She’s closed for 14 days, while anyone who was around the teacher also quarantines for 14 days.

“To be quite honest, we were really shocked that one of our employees came down with it; but again, it just shows that this is a reality,” Morgan said.

Morgan says the health department did not require her to close.

“I specifically said ‘Do we need to shut down?’ And they said no,” she said.

Morgan says she still has families with parents working essential jobs, who still need childcare.

“I could not afford to shut down my business for two weeks, but again, the health and wellness of my staff and families was most important to me,” she said.

Then she took another hit – a Facebook post accused her of trying to keep it quiet, because she wrote on her warning letter to parents, “This letter may not be photographed and/or posted on social media.”

“I felt led to put that on that notice because the COVID-19 virus has been getting a lot of attention and I just did not want to cause a lot of fear in the St. Louis community,” she said.

Morgan says she wasn’t hiding it from people who needed to know. She said she not only emailed parents, but she called parents and reported her center to Missouri Childcare Licensing and the St. Louis County Health Department.

“What was devastating about the post is that (it said) I tried to hide this. There was nothing for me to hide,” she said.

A parent also told me by phone, there was no secret. She said she received a call from Morgan even though her child wasn’t currently attending. She’s the one who first spotted the Facebook post.

“I don’t feel like it was right,” she said. “Me and my husband were upset about it, just for the simple fact they did what they were supposed to do.”

Morgan hired a professional cleaner to disinfect the center. She knows the challenge won’t be over when she reopens April 10.

“We tried to talk to the kids about it, you know, it’s really hard to explain to a child, ‘Hey, I can’t give you a hug,’” she said.

Morgan says before the pandemic, her facility already had to follow childcare licensing guidelines to wash hands every time you enter the building and anytime you switch classrooms. Recently, she said teachers have also been required to disinfect their classroom at naptime.

Out of 44 children who normally attend the center, she said 19 were still attending before she temporarily closed.

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