Child care for essential workers has been a core service school districts across Minnesota have been providing their communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

 In a MREA survey last week, 98 percent of rural school superintendents reported having at least one child in care with the majority (43 percent) providing child care to 6-20 children of essential workers.

  • Only 5% are providing care to 50 or more children.
  • This critical child care is provided by relatively few staff per district.
  • Nearly half are relying on five or fewer staff.

The survey included responses from 101 rural superintendents in Minnesota.

Early Successes

Many of the superintendents reported early success with providing child care listing positives as:

  • Doing well. They have breakfast and lunch bags.  Plenty of outdoor activities, indoor activities, reading time, and games.
  • Great staff. Offering help with distance learning.  Grateful parents to meet the needs of their children.
  • Provide a safe place for those students and peace of mind for their families.
  • Spread out over 3 of our 4 buildings to try to maintain social distancing. Custodians are cleaning/disinfecting common areas twice a day during the daycare
  • It has been successful. We had a school age care program we could quickly transition.


Nearly all superintendents listed challenges in providing child care including the following:

  • Training of staff on specific needs: supervision, routine, health protocol, etc.
  • Social-distancing best practices and daily symptom screening for children and staff
  • Workers concerned about getting ill and/or bringing it home to their families
  • Behavior of some students
  • Staff morale
  • Cleaning and disinfecting demands
  • Keeping numbers as close to 10 per room as possible

Many superintendents addressed child care staff morale and health as a concern.

As one put it, “I feel like we need to continually support our child care staff. The uptick in cases of COVID-19 hasn’t hit our county yet, and then I think we may lose employees. Our nurse is working on coming up with more protections for our workers.”


See more survey results on distance learning in rural Minnesota.



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