Shutdown causes some children to stay home from school, day care - KMSP-TV

Shutdown causes some children to stay home from school, day care

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WASHINGTON -

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers, countless children will have to stay home because their schools and day care centers are also now closed.

Oliver Katz and big brother Henry will be spending much more time at home in Falls Church over the coming days. They can thank or blame Congress.

Inside the now closed Natural History museum on the National Mall is the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center or SEEC (pronounced SEEK). It is a preschool and kindergarten with 135 children and a staff of 45 people.

"I'm not sure Congress is aware of just how far-reaching the impact of this shutdown is," says Brian Katz, whose sons are enrolled in the Smithsonian's school. "And when you have to sit down and explain to a 5-year-old why he can't go to school, it's a difficult conversation."

Katz's wife, Lauren, is also on furlough. She works for the Smithsonian's American History Museum.

"And our older son heard us talking about shutdown and said, 'It's a bad word.' And we said no, it's not 'shut up,' but we had to tell him what was going on just so he would know what to expect for this week," Ms. Katz says.

"It's difficult," says another SEEC parent, Sally Otis. "Especially because I don't think that Congress thinks about what that does to parents that aren't federal employees, but that no longer have daycare."

Otis' 2-year-old daughter, Evalyn, is in SEEC's Penguins class.

"She's learned about ecology and planting flowers," Otis explains. "She's learned about polar bears and habitats. So it's much more than just daycare and it's much more than a babysitter can simply fill-in and replace."

Much more than killing time at home. Evalyn's father is also on furlough.

"Everyone's just kind of hoping for the best," Otis says. "Hoping that it's a quick resolution. That it won't last much longer than a week. That we don't see something like in the years past where it was 21 days."

In the meantime, 5-year-old Henry is learning a strange lesson: that he is not going back to school in the morning because of something lawmakers did.

"It made me feel a little nervous," Henry says, "because I don't like a lot of people fighting."

Brian Katz adds: "My 5-year-old cannot go to kindergarten because our congressmen and women are forgetting the concepts we learn in kindergarten: take turns, share, listen and don't call each other names. And so I don't know if that means that either our Congress people need to go back to kindergarten or my kindergartner's ready to be a Congress person. But it's ironic, I would say."

Katz says the Smithsonian school's community will be keeping in touch through its Facebook page. On it, teachers have posted some of their 4-year olds' thoughts about Congress.

One of them suggesting, "we can go to the capitol and show them how to get along."


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