Online Originals: On the Front Lines with Early Childhood Student Valeria Rodriguez

Online Originals

KENANSVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The COVID-19 pandemic has put childcare workers in North Carolina on the front lines.

“I don’t want to bring it home with me,” said Valeria Rodriguez, a student at James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, who is double majoring in early childhood education and school-age education.

“It’s a little hard, I have a big family and my Grandma lives with us… it is stressful because you don’t know what will happen when it comes to the coronavirus.”

Valeria works at Sandcastles Child Care, which is located in Duplin County.

She says that initially when she started at James Sprunt, she thought she wanted to become a Second Grade Teacher.

Now, after getting this job, she says, “I fell in love working with the toddlers, watching them develop through stages. I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

With the coronavirus, Valeria says that a lot of things have changed in her job. One thing that has changed is the children.

“We are only caring for children of essential workers. There are a lot fewer kids than there used to be. A lot of people are taking time off to self-quarantine and are scared to come in.”

Another thing that has changed is protocol.

As soon as the children arrive, we wash their hands and their faces now. We wear a mask and gloves for everything. We do not come into direct contact with the parents. We try to maintain a social distancing of 6 feet,” Valeria said. “We are not allowed to be hugging and holding the children, unless they get hurt, which is really hard, because the toddlers, 1 and 2-year-olds, really want that love and attention.”

Even though she is on the front lines, Valeria says she doesn’t consider herself to be a hero.

“I’m just doing my job, doing what’s best for my family, trying to help my family, and I’m thank-ful I’m still able to work.”

If you are interested in enrolling in online child care classes at James Sprunt contact Ashley Graham at

Courtesy: Cheryl Hemric

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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