This past week, our executive director sent the following message to Gov. Cox in response to Utah’s COVID-19 Vaccination plan. Our team of teachers and directors were extremely disheartened and disappointed to learn that childcare workers were not included in the initial phases of the state’s vaccination process. Childcare providers across our state and nation are essential workers who have worked tirelessly to provide outstanding care throughout the pandemic, and we strongly believe that our teachers should have the option to get vaccinated as soon as possible, not only to protect themselves and their families but to protect the children they care for and their families. We encourage our families to share this message and spread the word.
“Dear Governor Cox,
Congratulations on your inauguration. My name is Chaney Zinn and I am the Executive Director of St. John’s Community Child Development Center, a local non-profit preschool and childcare center with four locations in the Salt Lake Valley. I am writing you to make a heartfelt request that you include preschool/childcare teachers in your first phase of COVID-19 vaccinations. St. John’s CCDC employs anywhere from 60 to 80 teachers throughout the year, and even more in the summer to care for our communities school-age children 5 to 14 years of age. The childcare industry is vital to our economy by providing an invaluable service for working families. Our care for their children is what allows our healthcare workers, frontline workers, and teachers to do their job.
When our city shut down, our school administration met and made the difficult decision to stay open so that we could provide care for essential workers. It was important to us to do our part, even though it put our valued employees at risk, as well as put us under financial strain. St. John’s CCDC isn’t alone in this. Childcare providers across the state, their staff, and their teachers are unsung heroes in this pandemic. We come to work every day to watch our essential workers’ children so they can continue to take care of our loved ones sick with COVID-19. However, unfortunately, we have become a forgotten key-component having been left out of the first round of vaccinations. In my estimation, this is not the way to thank these teachers for providing care for these families throughout the whole pandemic. When our teachers become sick it closes down an entire classroom, if not an entire schoo,l for what was two weeks and is now ten days. Our families (doctors, nurses, teachers) now have to find alternate care, or stay home with their children when this happens, thus taking them away from the jobs we need them to do so badly.
Additionally, childcare providers are generally private institutions whose primary income is found in the tuition paid by these families. When we have a COVID-19 case we reimburse tuition for those two weeks (or 10 days) but continue to pay our teachers wages because we wouldn’t have it any other way. This isn’t a viable business model and puts our industry at risk. It isn’t a secret that the childcare industry as a whole is suffering and it is imperative that we are no longer forgotten as an essential component to a healthy community. Again, I ask that you please help me thank these hard-working childcare teachers and staff for their months of sacrifice during this pandemic by putting them into your phase 1 of vaccinated workers.”