School and daycare facilities haven’t “bounced back” to normalcy

Nov 18, 2022, 4:41 PM | Updated: 4:49 pm
Shortages in daycares across the country and in Utah are keeping thousands of parents home, intead ...
FILE: Eighth grade students and their teacher wear masks at Mount Jordan Middle School in Jan. 2022. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)
(Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A national report found that more than 100,000 parents called in sick during October. But they didn’t call in because they were sick. It was because they couldn’t find childcare for their kid.

The daycare industry is lagging behind other businesses that have been in catch-up mode since the COVID-19 pandemic began winding down. Daycares across the country still haven’t built up their staffing numbers to pre-pandemic levels.

The same can be said for schools, which are also still striving to catch up to pre-pandemic staffing levels.

Add in the fact that the country is in the midst of flu season and is experiencing a wave of RSV illnesses and it becomes clear why thousands of parents are staying home instead of going to work.

That 100,000 number is even higher than the absentee numbers reported at the beginning of the pandemic when about 81,000 Americans called in sick because of issues with child care.

The better news involves … COVID-19?

One piece of good news for parents and teachers in Utah right now is that COVID-19 is one of the least concerning issues.

Data from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services shows the state is far below the 158 hospitalizations among kids ages 5 to 17 that were registered back in January.

The numbers show that, to date, there are just 12 hospitalizations from COVID-19 for that age group this month.

A year ago there were 86.

About 63% of high school and middle school-aged kids in Utah have had their first series of the COVID vaccine. For elementary schoolers, it’s closer to 32%.

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School and daycare facilities haven’t “bounced back” to normalcy