By Cassandra Brooks
Childcare has been the backbone of our state during the pandemic, providing care and supervision for many parents who serve in frontlines positions. My staff have also stepped up to help children with remote learning, assuming greater responsibility at a time when children cannot join their normal classrooms.
Childcare workers have been essential workers since the start of the pandemic, and I believe that their skills will be called upon as we transition to life after the pandemic and beyond.
Despite the importance of childcare workers at this critical moment, many do not have health coverage to protect them against the virus and address their other health needs. Unfortunately, many of my staff members find themselves in this position as they fall into what is known as the “coverage gap” and do not have an affordable option for health coverage.
Several teachers at my facility have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the contracting the virus. Combining this increased risk with no health coverage has escalated the fear of the virus and how they would be able to recover if they did become ill.
Some of my teachers did contract COVID-19, but I feel fortunate that none of them ended up in the hospital. However, the mental and physical toll that the virus has taken on them cannot go without mention.
Although my teachers were able to recover from the virus, other childcare workers have not been so lucky. A childcare worker in Wake County died from COVID-19, and I fear that the next victim may be another teacher if North Carolina does not find a solution to close the health insurance coverage gap.
I believe that with this virus, you need a healthy immune system, strong body, and the ability to treat underlying health conditions. My teachers cannot effectively arm themselves against the virus if they cannot tend to their underlying health conditions due to lack of health coverage.
Prior to the pandemic, I lost two teachers to preventable conditions because they did not have health insurance and could not access care. This virus is ruthless and has revealed the importance of managing underlying conditions. Closing the coverage gap would mean that all of my staff would have access to health care and finally have the ability to address their health needs.
While closing the coverage gap will not eliminate the virus itself, it would at least give frontline workers a fighting chance to recover and continue contributing to their communities.
Cassandra Brooks is the owner of Little Believer’s Academy.