Carlton County daycare centers, schools to provide child care amid COVID-19 closures

Most daycares and preschools will stay open, their owners said.

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Alex Helland, a teacher at Mini Mos Day Care Center plays with Tommy Gerard and Matthew Cullen at an activity table as Elise Haussner watches the boys play in the Kindergarten Readiness room. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

Carlton County daycare centers can remain open to care for children whose parents need to keep working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kid’s Corner will stay open according to the Cloquet School District website. They will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 18-20 and March 30 for all families currently enrolled. There will be a $3.50 per hour charge and families need to provide a cold lunch.

The website goes on to say that all families who are work in the medical or emergency professions, as well as Cloquet School District educators will be offered free care for their children March 18-20. The child needs to be enrolled in Cloquet Public Schools and be 12 years old or younger. They can receive care at the school they normally attend. Washington and Churchill elementary schools will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cloquet Middle School will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Child care will not be provided during spring break March 23-30. More details can be found on the school district website.

Little Eskomo Lutheran Preschool in Esko will close, but Li'l Lumberjacks Learning Center and Li'l Thunder Learning Center in Cloquet will remain open.

"We will stay open," Ruth Reeves, Cloquet Community Education director said. "These are extraordinary times."


She said the high school has offered to let them use a few empty classrooms to help spread the children out. Parents with children who aren't old enough for kindergarten can call Li'l Lumberjacks or Li'l Thunder to see if there is an opening.

Some centers, such as Little B’s in Barnum, are posting their information to their Facebook page to let parents know they are staying open.

Laugh N Learn Child Care Center is both a daycare center and a preschool. Owner and operator Stacy Pohjala said she will keep the Hermantown and Cloquet facilities open unless the government mandates their closure.

She said parents need to make arrangements at least 24 hours in advance. Email her at or call 218-879-6707 for the Cloquet office or 218-206-7345 for the Hermantown office for more information.

“We can take a few kids up to 12 years of age,” Pohjala said.

Mini Mos owner, Courtney Greiner, is keeping the Esko daycare open as long as possible, but she is nervous about a child or employee unknowingly come into contact with the virus and spreading it.

Greiner said they are balancing fear of the virus with common sense to keep providing care so parents can continue to work and provide for their families. While the government said daycare is important, they do not offer the financial support if something happens and they need to close like the schools across many states.

“As of now we are staying open because we want the healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, retail workers and all other employees that are essential for the community to function to be able to continue to work,” Greiner said. “But we are still fearful of what that means for our families and the teachers of our center. We are also fearful of what it means to our bills when the state says we do need to shut our doors and how we survive if that does happen."


She sent an email offering employees the opportunity to not come to work if they were not comfortable.

She also emailed families and asked them to stay home if they had any symptoms or were diagnosed with COVID-19.

School lunch is available

Cloquet: Free Grab-and-Go bagged lunches for children 18 years old and younger will be available for pick-up inside the main entry at Churchill Elementary, Cloquet Middle School and Washington Elementary between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each day.

Cloquet High School will have bagged grab-and-go lunches available for pick-up between 11:00 a.m. and noon each day.

If a meal is needed by students within the walking boundaries, these students, a parent or a guardian will need to pick up a grab-and-go lunch at one of the listed sites. Students are not allowed to eat at the school per guidance from the state. Meals may only be picked up by the student, a parent or a guardian

Students who normally ride a bus can receive their lunches at their typical bus stop. Check out the link for the bus schedule and times.

Esko: Grab-and-Go boxed lunches will be available in the East Parking Lot near the playground from 11 a.m. to noon every scheduled school day. It includes two meals and a snack for each qualifying student per day.

Contact Irene Tount at .


Barnum: Begins Tuesday, March 24. Must sign up between 8 a.m. and noon Thursday, March 19 or Friday, March 20 by calling 218-6976 ext. 1016 or emailing or .

Moose Lake: Grab-and-Go lunches are available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on school days. Contact Shari Anderson at 218-485-4435 ext. 1109 or to participate.

Wrenshall: South Terrace and Carlton MS/HS: 8:30-9:30 a.m.; Sawyer Center Parking lot, 9-9:30 a.m.; Salvation Army Parking lot 9 -9:30 a.m.; Wrenshall 8:30-9:30 a.m. on what would have been regularly scheduled school days.

No meals are provided during spring break.

As a public service, we've opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.

This story was updated on March 19 at 3:50 p.m. to reflect that Li'l Thunder and Li'l Lumberjacks learning centers are open.

This story was updated on March 25 at 8:17 a.m. with information about meals available in Wrenshall. It was originally posted on March 18 at 10:49 a.m.

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