Panicked parents are facing chaos next month as the Covid-19 crisis is forcing the closure of after-school programmes.
One of the largest childcare providers on the capital's northside, West Wood Gym in Clontarf, has just announced it is closing its after-school service ahead of schools reopening in September.
In a worrying trend that looks set to be replicated nationwide, the facility said it can't maintain social distancing when it comes to mixing children in its care all day with those coming in from different schools.
The issue of safely transporting children on buses from a number of different schools was also given as a reason.
Industry representatives say comprehensive guidelines are urgently needed from the Department of Children.
In a letter sent to parents last Friday, West Wood management said it was with a "very heavy heart" that they informed parents of the decision to close its after-school service.
"This decision was not taken lightly and we have exhausted every avenue in trying to reopen the after-school service but it is not practical or viable and so we have come to the very tough decision to close the service," it stated.
Several reasons were given for the move, which has left dozens of parents scrambling to make additional arrangements ahead of schools reopening in September.
West Wood says it is under strict guidelines to keep staff and children in pods and they must limit contact with other people "in so much as is possible to contain the virus".
"In after-school, this unfortunately is not possible as they are not in our care for the full day so will be mixing in their school rooms with children not attending here," it stated.
"We would be mixing different children from different schools and from different classes in the one pod and this would breach all the guidelines that are being laid out for us and contradict how the rest of our childcare service is being run."
Transport is another reason cited. West Wood currently has two buses but with the need for social distancing, they would need five or six buses to allow for children to be spaced safely.
"If (extra) buses were to become available, this would have massively increased the cost of after-school fees," it continued.
"We understand this is a blow to parents. We did not take this decision lightly. . . . We have thought of all children's safety as well as the safety of our after-school team and also the other children within the facility."
Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) told the Irish Independent it had been raising concerns about after-school childcare with the Department of Children since the Government's reopening plans were first mooted.
Its director of policy and advocacy, Frances Byrne, said programmes operating within schools as well as those within crèches "will face different challenges". There are currently 4,500 facilities operating in Ireland.
Providers of school-based facilities have already been involved in the reopening plans and it is "very welcome" that this has already begun, she said.
But those who are running crèches have expressed concerns about operating pods safely and also providing transport from schools.
"We understand that the department will issue specific guidance for these settings shortly. This, along with the continued funding package for the sector as a whole, will be critical to the success of the reopening," she said.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre said last night that it will host a webinar for the childcare sector this Friday on operating safely.
West Wood gym declined to make a comment when contacted.