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Atlantic City Day Nursery closed due to COVID-19, supporters worry about financial impact
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Atlantic City Day Nursery closed due to COVID-19, supporters worry about financial impact


The Atlantic City Day Nursery was founded by Sarah Leeds for the children of working mothers.

ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic City Day Nursery has been a staple in the city for 114 years, but supporters are worried COVID-19 might have devastating financial effects.

“We’ve never been closed for this long,” said Monica Giampa, co-president of the board of directors. “Uncertainty is the hardest part.”

The facility operates on tuition payments and community fundraising, said board member Christine D’Alessandro.

Due to social distancing guidelines intended to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, the facility closed March 16. It can no longer collect tuition and had to cancel its most lucrative fundraiser — its spring Fashion Show.

“We do not receive federal funding … and our success has been solely built on our relationships with friends and organizations in the greater Atlantic City area,” D’Alessandro said.

The facility’s only other closings were brief and weather-related, like in 2012 after Superstorm Sandy caused road closings, said the organization’s historian, Brooke Connor.

The Atlantic City Day Nursery, established in 1906 by Sara Leeds, of the region’s famous Leeds family, is on North Boston Avenue. The facility serves about 50 families, about 90% of whom qualify for federal assistance. Many use state-subsidized funding called Childcare Network to pay for tuition.

Although Gov. Phil Murphy ordered in late March that all child care facilities except those serving children of essential personnel close by April 1, Giampa said the board believed it was in the best interest of its families to close in Mid-March. She said the decision was difficult.

“We were obviously concerned as the pandemic was escalating, not only nationwide, but in our area,” she said.

Giampa said the loss of the spring fundraiser compounds the board’s concerns.

“We obviously are not charging families during this time. We have no income at this time, and our only income would be our fundraising efforts, which have also been halted,” she said.

Still, the nursery is hopeful it will return.

“Every avenue, every stone will be turned to figure out how we can open our doors again,” Giampa said. “We have to be able to open, it’s too important.”

To support its families during the closing, the board collected donations of nonperishable food and household items, which were distributed to those who returned March 16 to pick up any items that were left behind the week before.

Board of Directors Co-President Mary Beth Snow said the remainder will be distributed upon the nursery’s reopening.

She said they are also using social media to stay connected with families and to post videos and lessons.

Snow said she wants families to know “it’s just a bump in the road” for the long-standing establishment.

“We’re going to be here for them when this is over. No matter what we have to do to keep the school going, we’re going to do,” she said. “We’ve been around a long time, and we’re going to get through it.”

UPDATED: Restaurants closed and other event, closing information due to COVID-19

Contact: 609-272-7251

Twitter @clairelowe

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Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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