Attorney General Aaron Frey is pictured in this 2018 file photo.

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It is possible for day cares to shut down during the coronavirus outbreak and continue to charge parents while they are closed, according to the Maine attorney general.

People have been asking the attorney general’s office whether child care providers can legally continue to charge them while they are closed, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey said in a statement Thursday afternoon. The answer depends on the agreements reached between the child care center and parents as well as the day cares’ normal course of operations.

“If there is a written contract that covers emergency closure, the contract will likely govern. If there is no written contract, or the written contract does not cover emergency closures, there may be an implied contract arising from the pre-existing course of dealing,” Frey said.

For example, if there is no specific agreement around emergency closures, but parents pay their child care center when it is closed for a snow day, “that pre-existing course of dealing may mean payment would be required during this emergency,” he said.

“Existing law relies on the law of contract to allocate the losses between the day care provider and user and if the parties cannot come to an agreement, a court would decide each case, on a case by case basis,” Frey said.

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on issues of sexual...