A student at Ripon Children’s Learning Center pauses to wash his hands correctly.
A student at Ripon Children’s Learning Center pauses to wash his hands correctly.

   When Gov. Tony Evers announced last week Wednesday that the state would begin limiting daycares to no more than 50 students and 10 staff at a given time due to COVID-19, Ripon’s largest daycare — Ripon Children’s Learning Center (RCLC) — was a step ahead.

   Even though the latest guidance it had received from the state early last week had indicated it could grow beyond its usual size, its board of directors already had made a decision.

   “The board met [last week] Monday night and wrestled with all the pros and cons of closing [or] staying open. We certainly feel like we’ve got some social obligation and opportunity to keep kids from potentially spreading the virus around the community. But we also recognize there are families that depend on our care so they can keep their jobs,” said Jeff Puhlmann-Becker, board president of RCLC. “And so what we did is encourage families to find other care and [for] those that needed our care, we would stay open.”

   What that meant was that the daycare, which is licensed for up to 125 children, went in actuality from 95 kids the previous week to 12.

   “Most families found alternate care,” Puhlmann-Becker said. “... Our goal was to get down to about a quarter of a regular population.”

   The concern wasn’t that the children, if gathered together, would become sick — the statistics suggest the young don’t come down with COVID-19. Rather, the concern was that they potentially could be carriers, infecting others who may be more vulnerable to the virus.

Read the full story in the March 26, 2020 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.