The YWCA began operation of its Remote Learning Program in mid-November to help alleviate the strain felt by families juggling work, COVID-19 concerns, and helping their kids get a good education.
The program serves 26 students ranging in age from 6 to 12 years from 11 different schools in the city of Worcester.
“We’re able to provide a safe place for children to learn while parents work,” says Cindy Landry school age program director.
Children arrive at 8 a.m. and receive a healthy breakfast before logging into school via their Chromebook and classes are in session until approximately 3 pm. The YWCA partners with Friendly House to provide children with healthy meals, milk, and juice daily, so children receive breakfast, lunch, and snacks at no charge for families.
YWCA staff support children throughout their remote learning time, from logging onto a Zoom session to helping a child solve a math word problem. When the school day is over, they facilitate fun activities including arts and crafts, STEM activities, cooking, reading, and outdoor play.
Our Site Coordinator, Miss Debbie, has been a great support to the younger children. She helps children on assignments, provides encouragement throughout the day, and is a great role model. Debbie has also developed positive relationships with parents, reviewing schedule changes or special assignments that need to be completed that day with parents when they drop off their children. She ensures school work is completed each day on time. When problems or questions arise during the day, we are able to communicate with both the teachers and parents.
Parents are very appreciative that there is a program for their children to come to for remote learning. One parent was in tears on the first day when she dropped her children off. She was so grateful that there was a safe place for her children to be while she worked.
Before the program was available, she had been forced to leave her two children at home while she went to work. She called them every hour from work to check in. Now she can go to work assured that her children are safe and doing their school work with the support of trusted staff.
One of our new parents had been out of work since the pandemic began. She lost her job because she wasn’t able to find anyone to stay home with her child when the school closed and remote learning began. Within one week of her child starting at the program, she found a job, and is so happy to be back in the workforce. Now she is able to make ends meet and reduce the financial burden she has been under while unemployed.
The program operates with strict cleaning, hygiene, and physical distancing protocols in place to prevent COVID-19 exposure. Children are seated six feet apart and practice social distancing during activities. Everyone is prescreened upon entry to the program each day to ensure they are healthy. Materials are sanitized throughout the day and the staff and children wear facemasks to reduce the risk of possible exposure.
Overall, the program has been very successful. Currently, we are fully enrolled and have a waitlist of people who want to enroll their children. Enrolled families are grateful to have a safe place to send their children while they are working.