EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The coronavirus pandemic shut down daycares across Southern California. However, when workplaces reopen, working parents will need childcare so SoCal daycare facilities are preparing to reopen and planning extra safety precautions. One of them is the South Bay’s Beach Babies.   

“When we decided to close down, it all happened so fast,” said Christie Komula, Regional Director for Beach Babies, which shut down all five of its childcare centers in El Segundo and Manhattan Beach on March 13.

“It was a really easy decision that we needed to close down because we did need to protect all of our staff and we did need to protect all of our children and their families,” Komula said.


She runs Beach Babies with her mom, Denise Tyner, who started the business in 1991, caring for four infants out of her home. Komula says the real challenges start when the state lifts stay-at-home orders.

“When we do reopen, everybody is going to be wearing face masks, you know, not just the staff,” she explained. “But we also need to work with our children - children more than likely two and up will also be wearing masks.”

Parents will no longer be able to drop their children off inside their classroom. Instead, parents must drop off kids at the front entrance, which Komula says is recommended by California’s Community Care Licensing Division.

“They are recommending that families do not actually enter our facilities anymore...that they're stopped at the door, we receive the children, take their temperatures immediately just to make sure that they are not displaying any symptoms of illness,” she said.

Children are not the only ones who will receive temperature checks, employees will also have their foreheads scanned. 

No more wide-open spaces in classrooms either. Komula is reconfiguring furniture to separate the children.

“So instead of 30 children co-mingling throughout the day, we're looking at more of like six to eight children max in each individual group just to limit any kind of exposure,” she said.

To further limit exposure, Komula says Beach Babies centers will no longer host tours for prospective families. Instead, they will offer virtual tours. She also plans to conduct virtual interviews for job applicants.

To top it all off, Komula has plenty of hospital grade wipes and cleaning supplies at all five centers.

“I feel like we're up for the challenge, you know,” said Komula. “We had good routines in place before we closed down, just for the illnesses and viruses that we see on an annual basis.”

There is one more change and it may be the hardest of all.

“We spend, you know, the first six years of their life just helping teach them to keep their hands to themselves,” Komula said. “So now we're going to have to have to teach them to keep six feet to themselves.”

Despite all the challenges, Komula says she can’t wait to welcome back hundreds of children and see the classrooms and playgrounds fill up with life again.