There have been less than two dozen cases of COVID-19 reported among young children who have continued to attend day care and preschool in Kern County during the pandemic, according to data from the California Department of Social Services, which oversees the agency that licenses and regulates child care facilities.
In all, there have been 89 reported cases among child care staff, children or the parents of children attending a child care facility, the data shows. Of those, 20 or fewer were cases among children.
Unlike schools, day care centers, preschools and in-home child care operators have largely reopened, though many are caring for fewer children than before. With 869 licensed child care centers in the county, 772 were operating as of Wednesday, according to Jason Montiel, with the state Department of Social Services.
Some never closed.
Garden Pathways Preschool and Infant Care in downtown Bakersfield has remained open throughout the pandemic, said Juan Avila, chief operating officer of Garden Pathways.
"We were definitely considering closing our doors but realizing that first responders, nurses and essential workers would need some level of day care ... we decided to keep the doors open," Avila said.
Enrollment declined significantly, at one point down to about 25 percent of the center's usual enrollment of 96 children. But more recently the number is heading back up to about half the normal enrollment. So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported among staff or children, Avila said.
But there have been situations of possible exposure, in which case staff are asked to quarantine and parents are asked to keep children home for 14 days, Avila said.
The center consults with the Kern County Department of Public Health Services when a possible exposure occurs to determine who needs to quarantine, Avila said.
Children over age 2 are asked to wear masks and that has been challenging, Avila said. But instructors provide praise and encouragement and try to make it fun, he said.
The California Department of Social Services also regulates residential care facilities for the elderly, also known as assisted- and independent-living communities, and adult residential facilities, such as homes for those with developmental disabilities or mental illness.
As of Wednesday, there were 27 staff and 39 residents of elderly residential care facilities who had tested positive for COVID-19 among four different communities: Hallmark of Bakersfield, Jasmin Terrace at Bakersfield, Pacifica of Bakersfield and Rosewood Retirement Community.
Ten or fewer deaths were reported at Jasmin Terrace at Bakersfield and Pacifica of Bakersfield. The state does not provide an exact number when there are 10 or fewer deaths.
One adult residential facility called Center Village has reported 15 cases among staff and 10 or fewer among residents, according to the data.