The District plans to open six emergency child-care facilities Thursday to serve the children of health-care workers during the coronavirus crisis, city officials said.

The sites can accommodate 250 children up to age 12 and are strategically located near hospitals and the homes of health-care workers.

Hanseul Kang, the District’s superintendent for education, said the city is working with hospitals and health-care facilities to identify qualifying families. At least 75 children are expected to attend opening day.

The city hopes to expand the program in the coming weeks, Kang said. The expanded program would also aim to serve health-care employees who work nights and weekends.

“We’re really pleased to be able to provide greater child-care support so our health-care workforce can focus on the work that we all need them to be doing right now,” Kang said at a news conference this week.

The emergency facilities arrive as child-care centers across the country have shut down amid the coronavirus crisis, leaving families scrambling for alternatives. The problem is particularly acute among health-care workers who are on the front lines of treating coronavirus patients and are required to go to work each day.

Officials across the region are searching for solutions. Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said the state has identified slots for more than 1,200 children of essential personnel across the state at YMCAs, libraries, recreation enters and other facilities. Salmon said she hopes to double the capacity. But some county executives have questioned how many more slots are needed and criticized the state for not using vacant public schools to house the emergency facilities.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) said in an interview last week that officials were shocked when the state schools superintendent rejected the use of schools in any plans. He said the county executives have helped the state find the alternate sites.

“We’re moving on,” Pittman said. “We had a plan that we thought would have gotten us opened up by today.”

In Virginia, leaders have acknowledged the need for emergency child care but have not yet announced a plan to offer it.

As the District speeds forward, Kang said, the facilities will take extra precautions to ensure the they remain safe. Children and staff will have temperature checks before entering. The class sizes will be smaller than in typical child-care centers. They’ll be cleaned more often. Entry and exit times will be staggered.

Five of the six day-care sites will be located in school buildings: Ballou High, Marie Reed Elementary, Noyes Elementary, School Without Walls at Francis Stevens and Simon Elementary. The sixth site will be at the United Planning Organization (UPO) Edgewood Child Development Center.

They will be run by child-care providers that already operate within D.C. Public Schools. UPO, which already runs day cares in city school buildings, will run the city’s emergency sites for children up to age 3. AlphaBest and Champions, which run before- and after-school programs, will run the emergency care for older children.

“We felt these operators had the capacity to move quickly and stand this up,” Kang said in an interview Wednesday. “This is a new operation for all if us, so we wanted to work with the providers that could help us meet this need as quickly as possible.” 

Kang said the emergency facilities would be paid between $100 and $150 per day per child, with the city paying most or all of those costs, depending on families’ income levels.

The need for emergency care has grown as child-care providers across the region have shuttered. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has not forced child-care providers to close, but she has recommended that the city’s 471 privately operated facilities close on the same schedule as public schools. (The District’s public schools are currently scheduled to reopen on April 27.) More than 400 child-care facilities have closed.

Angelique Speight-Marshall, who has operated Miss P’s Daycare out of her Northwest Washington home for two decades, is one of the few facilities to remain open. She said many of her clients work in health care and need to go to work.

She takes the temperatures of children before they enter and prohibits them from attending if they have a cold. She said she has considered closing for her relatives’ safety, but she said her clients need child care.

“The reason why I stayed open is because I have health-care workers,” Speight-Marshall said. “I said I was trying to close on Monday, but they’ve been begging on me to stay open, and I want to help them. I really do.”