EARLY YEARS: Roanoke Valley organizations scramble to accommodate influx of students for the new school year

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia to offer full-day care and digital help for on-line classes
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 6:47 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Kids shooting hoops on a hot summer day is a pretty typical scene at the Roanoke location of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia.

Summer camp is in full swing. All year, the club provides youth development services.

“We are all inclusive. We cover academics, healthy lifestyles, good character and citizenship,” says Michelle Davis, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia.

Along with the typical club activities comes the NEW normal, temperature checks at the door, a health questionnaire, limited class sizes and other COVID-19 safety precautions.

With the pandemic, the needs of the community have changed.

“We anticipate that our need for service in this area is going to multiply two to three times what we’ve seen in the past, as families are trying to determine how they’re going to take care of their kids going back to work full time when schools aren’t in session full time,” says Davis.

The club is one of many organizations and day care providers changing schedules to offer more child care options.

“There are other resources in the community. We know the YMCA is also going to be serving in a full-day capacity. I know that some of the for profit day cares in the community are going to be doing day care service,” says Davis.

According to its website, YMCA of Virginia’s Blue Ridge is making plans to adapt its childcare program to meet the needs of families. Plans include part time and full-day camps, offered at a pro-rated rate, depending on school schedules. The Y says it’s planning to offer its after-school program, as well as all-day programming for children when they are not in school.

Boys and Girls Clubs is also looking at possibly opening additional locations if needed, and will provide the needed technology to meet the needs of students’ online classes.

“So, we have computer labs, we have tablets, kids will have laptops this year, we anticipate that. We’ll make sure everyone has that connectivity. And we will have the staffing to enable students to access their online classes while they’re here with us during the day,” says Davis.

As we know with this pandemic, the situation can change rapidly. That means school re-opening plans can, too.

Because of that, Davis says the club is preparing for all possible scenarios.

“We want to make sure that kids of all backgrounds, all socio-economic backgrounds, from sections of all Roanoke City know that we are open and available for care during the school year.”

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