Petition seeks changes in child-care standards

When it comes to caring for children, what is safe and what is realistic may be two different things.

That conflict is growing as daycares consider whether and how to reopen under state guidelines released Monday that include physical distancing and encourage mask use, daily temperature checks, and frequent cleaning.

When the guidelines were announced, daycare providers questioned their feasibility. Providers said they may not be able to stay in business if they had to cut class sizes to meet new staffing ratios and space requirements. They questioned how to teach children lessons like sharing and how to care for infants who need hands-on care.

As of Friday morning, more than 24,000 people had signed a fast-growing petition on asking the Department of Early Education and Care to revise the standards and let providers open on their own terms.

“By reducing enrollment, requiring more staff and space per child, and by increasing costs for multiple supplies needed, you will cripple private pay businesses,” the petition reads. The petition questions how providers will teach if they spend their days separating children and “instilling fear and anxiety” over illness. The petition concludes, “If anyone involved in making these regulations has worked with small children, you know damn well none of this is feasible.”

Comments on the petition are pointed. A preschool teacher says the regulations would turn early childhood education into “a prison.” Another educator says children need to play with peers and bond with caregivers to gain social skills. One signer calls the requirements “asinine” and “unrealistic.”

The petition was started by Nicole DeiCicchi, a working mother of two from Falmouth. DeiCicchi told CommonWealth that she had been looking forward to returning her kids to daycare, so they could have some normalcy. Now, her daycare provider will have to cut families – and even if she gets a spot, DeiCicchi worries that her children won’t enjoy daycare, and that teachers will be focused mainly on cleaning, separating kids, and encouraging mask use.

“I’m concerned from a social standpoint that they’re going to be instilled with fear and just scared to touch anybody or go near anybody,” DeiCicchi said.

State officials say the regulations were written with health and safety in mind by a working group that includes officials from state health and education agencies, with input from childcare providers. They were reviewed by Boston Children’s Hospital medical experts. The rules are intended to remain in place through the summer, but can be amended as public health experts learn more.

Gov. Charlie Baker, asked whether some daycares will be unable to reopen, said it is hard to predict. The Boston Business Journal reported that Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy acknowledged how hard social distancing will be with toddlers and said the state’s approach “is meant to be supportive, not punitive.”

The Boston Globe recently visited an emergency daycare to find a model for what childcare might look like. They found individualized school supplies, masked caregivers, and temperature checks. But those centers have been fairly empty, with parents hesitating to send children. And the new guidelines are different – for example, emergency daycares can have more students in a room than non-emergency centers.

State Rep. Mathew Muratore, a Plymouth Republican, runs three childcare centers – one emergency center and two others. Muratore thinks the standards are “somewhat doable,” and teachers can develop creative ways to teach and keep kids separate.

He thinks some opposition stems from the financial impact. His non-emergency centers will have to cut back from serving more than 50 kids each to fewer than 35 – a revenue loss of around $3,000 weekly with no change in payroll. Muratore said he can probably stay afloat through the summer due to a loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, “but how much longer we can stay open without that PPP money I’m not sure.”



Gov. Charlie Baker will announce further reopening plans Saturday as a coalition calls for racial considerations and worker protections. (State House News Service)


The Holyoke City Council prepares to discuss a $65,000 settlement of a civil rights lawsuit related to the police beating of a 12-year-old boy in 2014. (Daily Hampshire Gazette) A white fire lieutenant from Andover is placed on paid leave during an investigation into an incident where he allegedly accused a dark-skinned Dominican woman of stealing mail from her own house. (The Salem News)

Mayor Marty Walsh pledges to make Boston a leader in combating racism, as black city councilors and other leaders say the proof will be in actions not words. (Boston Globe)

Two police officers take a knee at Taunton Green, which was enough to convince those remaining from a four-hour protest to leave. (Taunton Gazette) Hundreds of people in Newton protest the murder of George Floyd — and the recent police stop of Northeastern University’s former athletic director, who is black. Newton’s mayor pledges change. (MassLive) The Enterprise has a compelling photo essay of protests that took place in Taunton on Thursday night.

Father Bill’s, which operates Quincy’s only homeless shelter, has cancelled its largest annual fundraiser FoodFest, and is instead launching an online campaign to raise $500,000 for its programs. (Patriot Ledger)


Scientists say they understand the need to protest police brutality but expect that coronavirus infections will increase as a result of mass demonstrations taking place. (Boston Globe) Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee lifts the city’s 9 p.m. curfew, which has been in effect since April 11. (Daily Item)

Cape Cod Healthcare’s top executive, Michael K. Lau, said the organization will open a second drive-thru coronavirus testing site on the Falmouth Hospital campus. (Cape Cod Times)


President Trump shares a letter on Twitter written by his former lawyer that calls protesters who were forcibly removed from Lafayette Park near the White House as “terrorists.” (Politico)


Economists were surprised by the May jobs report that brought a drop in unemployment from 14.7 percent to 13.3 percent. (New York Times)

Business groups are asking state and federal lawmakers to pass measures giving them protection from liability lawsuits connected to COVID-19. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts businesses are eager to see President Trump sign legislation now on his desk that will extend the Paycheck Protection Program loan period to December 31 and give businesses 24 weeks instead of eight to spend the money. (Boston Globe)


Berkshire Community College enrollment is down 25 percent, and officials say that’s good relative to other schools. (Berkshire Eagle)

The Worcester school committee is facing calls to eliminate its school resource officer program and take police officers out of schools. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Wayland School Committee votes to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day. (MetroWest Daily News)


The black co-writer and star of the musical “Witness Uganda,” produced at the American Repertory Theater in 2014, is accusing ART artistic director Diane Paulus contributing to the racism he experienced during the production. (Boston Globe)


The MBTA’s oversight board asked the agency to stop using its buses to ferry police to protest sites, but the T isn’t saying whether it will comply. (Boston Globe)


Rep. Ayanna Pressley backed Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins in her war of words with the main Boston police union over police brutality issues, while Mayor Marty Walsh said neither side was right. (Boston Herald)


After first defending running an op-ed by Sen.Tom Cotton calling for military force against protesters, New York Times editors reversed course and said the piece did not meet its standards and it plans to run fewer op-eds. (Washington Post). Opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg now thinks her “debating-club approach to the question of when to air proto-fascist opinions” was wrong. (New York Times) Media critic Dan Kennedy says no, the Times should not have published the op-ed. (Media Nation) Gabriel Snyder weighs in as well. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Black Philadelphia Inquirer journalists call in sick after the paper runs a story by its architecture critic headlined “Buildings Matter, Too.” (Nieman Journalism Lab)


Prominent Boston developer Joseph Corcoran, known for his mixed-income housing projects, died at age 84. (Boston Globe)