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Up to 1,000 new child care workers needed in Roanoke as students prepare to head back to school

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 12:36 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -Roanoke City schools are facing some major challenges as the start of class approaches. As the district finalizes its plans to provide childcare and online learning options, officials say up to 1,000 jobs may need to be filled, and fast.

The first day of school is set for August 31, and so far, the district hasn’t approved a final plan for reopening. A key part of that plan will be ensuring students have access to online learning, and a safe place to go when they’re not in school.

“There are lots and lots of challenges associated with this,” said City Manager Bob Cowell.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Cowell laid out progress that’s been made so far in tackling those challenges.

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about how school will work this fall.

“The capacity in the community to be able to serve students is somewhat limited by locations and by staffing,” Cowell said.

To handle after-school care, Cowell points out the district has partnered with the United Way, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs and others.

“They’ll actually benefit from, the way I would describe it is kind of a wraparound set of services,” he said. “This is also coupled with having mentoring support as well as other kinds of support for both the families as well as the youth.”

But providing that support will take an enormous amount of manpower.

Michelle Davis is a member of city council and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia. She says groups like hers will need to hire hundreds of people in the next few weeks - in Roanoke City alone.

“You do not have to be a teacher to fill a lot of these jobs,” she said.

Davis points out there will be a virtual job fair August 6 geared toward filling a lot of these roles.

As to how this will be paid for, City Manager Bob Cowell says officials may lean on CARES Act money to get the job done.

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