- States are classifying grocery store employees as emergency workers so they can get free child care during the coronavirus pandemic.
- With people rushing to the grocery stores and panic-buying supplies, it's important that those who are restocking the food and toilet paper can come to work.
- Vermont and Minnesota are among the states that have made store clerks eligible for assistance.
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With schools closed for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, most families are left to figure out how to care for their children around-the-clock while balancing their other responsibilities. For parents who work at grocery stores, which are among the few businesses that remain open nationwide, the struggle is especially real.
To ease that burden and ensure that there will still be people on the front lines restocking the toilet paper and hand sanitizer, Minnesota and Vermont have classified grocery store employees as emergency workers so they are eligible for free child care.
Under Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz 's executive order, the state will provide free child care for all school-aged children with parents who are emergency workers. The list of professionals covered by the order includes a wide cross-section of fields, including healthcare, IT, medical examiners, and emergency responders.
Food distribution workers, including store clerks and drivers, are listed under the second tier of emergency personnel who are eligible for free child care.
"Districts should make every effort to provide care for school-age children of workers in the areas below, if they are able to do so while adhering to the Minnesota Department of Health's social distancing guidelines," the order states.
Those involved in the "food supply chain" are also included in a Vermont plan to provide child care for essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, the VTDigger reported.
Under the plan, schools will become day care centers for children six and over, with no more than 10 children in a classroom at one time, according to the Digger.
Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith told the Digger that the state has been in touch with dozens of child care centers to care for children 5 years old and younger with parents serving "essential" jobs.
Some school employees — like "educators who are over 60 years old, educators with compromised immune systems, those living with others with compromised immune systems, suffering from anxiety, pregnant, or taking care of infants" — will be exempt from working during the pandemic, according to the Digger.
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