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Local ‘Early Head Start’ program sees decrease in enrollment due to COVID-19

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - A local Head Start that provides help to low income families in Siouxland is seeing a decrease in enrollment due to the pandemic.

Community Action Agency of Siouxland was forced to shut down their Early Head Start program back on March 16.

On Sept. 2, the agency reopened for in-person learning - but with new protocols in place - and smaller classrooms.

The Head Start's health manager, Joan Hansen, said many parents chose not to re-enroll their children out of fear of COVID-19.

The agency follows regulations set by the Department of Human Services.
This includes social distancing, usage of masks, and hand washing.

"There's lots of different rules, one thing that i think is different for people to understand is that school aged children have a different set of rules than childcare, so because we are a licensed childcare we have strict rules in place for coming to school," said Joan Hansen, Head Start Health Manager.

Hansen said if students are sick, they can only return to school with a negative COVID-19 test result. She said this has put kids out of school at record numbers. Which can set kids back on their headstart learning experience.

"I think it's frustrating for parents when they are not able to send their kids due to illnesses, but we are staying opening, we are providing services, and we are doing everything we can," said Hansen.

The agency has 29 classrooms and serves children up to 5 years of age. They are also offering virtual classes.

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Xava Parra

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