IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The YMCA is seeking to offer resources for working parents who cannot teach their children from home if school districts transition to any form of online learning.
The YMCA provided a distance learning classroom during the stay-at-home order and the before and after school director for the YMCA, Matthew Griese, says the YMCA is more than prepared to continue assisting families in need.
"We are providing care for those kids who can't stay at home, so we are remaining open to make sure that kids have a place to continue their education," Griese said. "And we're also providing supplies for tablets and computers so if they have to do online stuff, they're able to access that."
The youth organization is planning to keep in accordance with the various school districts if they transition to online phases of their reopening plans.
Staff had an open line of communication between parents, school officials, and teachers to ensure students are caught up with their course work during the stay-at-home order and plan to do so throughout the upcoming school year. Teaching during the stay-at-home order has introduced them to the various formats available to students including online coursework and packets.
Griese says the tablets provided by the YMCA also offer students an available means to communicate directly with their teachers. Currently, the YMCA has 10 tablets available for the children to share and is looking to accrue more technological assets to prepare for extended online learning.
Rates will depend on the school district's reopening plans as the need for online learning is still undecided. There are scholarships available for low-income families.
"Any child that needs assistance with education in all of our programs, early learning and schoolaged, has the ability to come learn here at the Y," CEO Monica Britrick said.
There are currently four teachers available for the before and after school care program. Idaho Falls YMCA CEO Monica Bitrick says they are looking to hire more staff to assist if the need arises during the 2020-21 school year, knowing an addition need will be present. They are also recruiting for donors to assist with scholarship programs.
"I think as a community leader and working with the underserved population, I think the bigger thing that is more important that the Y is doing is we do have these programs available to everyone," Bitrick said. "We have been preparing to make sure that any child that needs access to early learning or elementary programs and educational programs are taken care of."
The YMCA is anticipating up to 150 students in their early learning program through 6th grade.
The childcare program aspect of the YMCA began in 1967. Over the past 4 years, they have partnered with the State Department of Education and local districts to ensure their curriculum is in line with state standards for early learners through 6th grade.
"As we have moved forward with all of the challenges with COVID-19, we have been very fortunate to continue not only that learning model, including online, but also increasing the programming that we will offer to the community moving forward," Bitrick said.
The YMCA says they will offer snacks and lunches for distance learning students.
The YMCA offers a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program that will continue to be offered. Online learning for the community is available with technology provided by the YMCA.
Bitrick says they have been very thorough with their policies and procedures and have had rigorous training in sanitation and cleaning to ensure that staff and YMCA goers are safe within all of the programs.
The YMCA will begin offering a tutoring program in the fall on evenings and weekends to ensure children have the full educational assistance they may need.
"One of the really cool things that we will be launching for our fall and winter sports is live streaming of all of our games for familes," Bitrick said.
Bitrick says the YMCA is the only sports league in the area that will be offering this live-streaming option. She says it may be very beneficial for family members who may have health issues that put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. She says it will also assist families if attendance limitations for spectator sports continues to be limited through the fall and winter season.
She says it will also be possible for long distance family members who cannot make it to the games to see their loved ones playing sports through the YMCA.