After Loudoun Turns Two Libraries into Daycares, Library Board Chair Denis Cotter Resigns

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Four days after announcements that two of Loudoun’s libraries would be converted to child care centers, Denis Cotter, chair of the library’s Board of Trustees (BOT), announced his resignation from the board. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (BOS) only notified Cotter and other library leadership after the decision to convert the libraries had been made.

The Rust and Ashburn libraries have been transitioned to curbside pickup operations to allow them to be part of a network of over 20 sites that would provide socially-distanced capacity for 1,000-1,200 children.

Geary Higgins, chair for the Republican Party of Virginia’s 10th district, said Cotter resigned because the BOT was not consulted. “They’re supposed to be an advisory board, and they set the budgets,” Higgins told The Virginia Star.

“I can’t explain it. I would have thought that [the BOS] would advise [the BOT] that they were considering it, allow them to weigh in on it, and then make a decision after that. One would think that they might have offered some counsel — two heads are better than one.” Higgins used to serve on the BOS, but resigned last year. He said it was unusual that the BOS did not consult the library in advance.

“What’s entirely unclear is how can we provide daycare for kids, yet not send our kids back to school under COVID? Does COVID not affect daycare scenarios? It’s completely illogical,” Loudoun County mom Stacey Carey told The Virginia Star.

Higgins said, “It does seem a little counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? If it’s not safe to have them in schools because they might spread the virus, what happens when they’re in the library in basically the same type of atmosphere and setup, why is that any different? I guess it depends, apparently, on whose kids are being taken care of.”

“They closed the two busiest libraries, as I understand it, to provide daycare for teachers who aren’t working. I don’t get it,” Higgins said.

“The other thing that’s just crazy … why wouldn’t you use some of the schools that are closed and provide the facilities there that exist and not disrupt the operational library?”

Higgins warned that closing the schools will be harmful to families. “[It’s the] schools that report child abuse, and [if] kids aren’t in school, how does anybody know what’s going on if the kids are having problems?”

“Child abuse, spousal abuse, you read about homes that are dysfunctional, people that are abusing drugs or alcohol, all kinds of things, because their whole life has been upset,” Higgins said.

Higgins is skeptical of claims that the program will be entirely funded by the CARES act, a federal package of money aimed at reducing economic harm from COVID-19. “I don’t think that could be completely realistic, no,” Higgins said. “I don’t know how that’s going to pay for the facilities, for the loss of use of the facilities, some of the collateral damage. I would be suspicious that it’s going to be completely covered.”

“There’s virtually no evidence of children passing it on to older adults, so why is everybody held hostage for a handful of people that seems to me could be kept safe without closing the schools up,” Higgins said.

“Roughly 18-20 percent of teachers are in the zone that would be considered high-risk, and the rest of them are not, so why not put those teachers to work doing something else rather than close the schools,” Higgins added

“Everybody seems to be puzzled,” Higgins said. “This is like the second shot. We’re not going to have our kids in school at all and ‘Oh by the way,’ we’re not going to be able to use the libraries.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected].

 

 

 

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