TO SUPPORT REMOTE LEARNING, THE GATEWAY FAMILY YMCA OPENS VIRTUAL LEARNING SPACES PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN
When local school districts announced their intention to start the school year virtually, The Gateway Family YMCA, which typically offers before and after school care, adjusted to offer Virtual Learning Spaces at the YMCA. This program, offered during school hours, provides children a safe space where they can attend virtual classes while supervised by Y staff.
“The Gateway Family YMCA has served the local community for more than 120 of years. We have survived many challenging times together, none perhaps as impactful as COVID-19,” said Krystal R. Canady, CEO. “As an organization dedicated to youth development, we know how important it is that our children have a safe and enriching environment for learning. With many area schools operating virtually this fall, we restructured our YMCA branches to provide that environment to children, while also providing essential child care to those parents who need to return to work,” said Melynda A. Mileski, EVP/COO.
The Gateway Family YMCA has created a video with information on the Virtual Learning Spaces program, which can be viewed at https://youtu.be/3HFm0FsYCes In addition to daily support while remote students are learning, the Y also provides arts and STEM activities, physical activity and outdoor education.
“This program has been a huge blessing to and for me and my children. Due to Covid-19, many of our lives have been impacted in such a challenging way. My son and daughter look forward to coming to the YMCA each day, as they get to interact with different people, leave out of the house while also knowing that being in the YMCA care that safety and precaution measures are ensured 24/7,” shared a parent. “I was under high stress before this program started, because I did not know how I was going to effectively help my children with their schooling while at the same time completing my work. The staff here has been very polite, kind, caring and efficient. I am grateful beyond measure.”
In order to help keep children and staff healthy and safe throughout the school year, The Gateway Family YMCA, following state and local requirements, has adapted several changes to its day-to-day operations, including designating the Five Points Branch in Union as open only for Child Care and Virtual Learning Spaces at this time. Safety Procedures include:
- Designated drop off and pick up locations and staggered times
- Daily health screenings for children and staff
- Reduced capacity in group activities
- Staggered activities, with children remain in “learning pods”
- Frequent safety reminders and hand washing
- Stringent cleaning protocols and additional day cleaning porters
- Cloth face coverings/masks required based on state and local regulations
“We are so happy with our experience. From following CDC guidelines to the teachers being amazing to our children. Our kids look forward to coming to the YMCA,” stated a parent. “He loves and looks forward to going to the Y on a daily basis. I have nothing but good things to say about this program, allowing the kids to have some form of normalcy,” shared another parent.
“Throughout this crisis, we have looked for ways the Y can best serve everyone in our community. We are pleased to partner with local school districts to provide an equitable, safe learning environment for children to grow and thrive,” stated Rodger D. Koerber, Vice President of Operations.
Since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, The Gateway Family YMCA has distributed 13,997 meals to combat food insecurity, provided emergency, transitional or supportive housing for 2,350 individuals, families and veterans, led 1,190 virtual Chronic Disease programs for 2,258 community participants, 3,119 Virtual Wellness participants, 1,038 Outdoor Group Exercise participants and recorded 71,127 outreach endeavors to 23,204 unduplicated socially vulnerable individuals. In addition to Child Care and Virtual Learning Spaces, The Gateway Family YMCA offers a Virtual WISE Adult Services program.
The Gateway Family YMCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, health and community service organization of caring staff and volunteers dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community and stands For Youth Development, For Healthy Living and For Social Responsibility. The Y impacts the community by providing quality services to people of all ages, races, faiths or incomes. The Y is a powerful association of men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life joined together by a shared passion: to strengthen the foundations of community.
For more information on Virtual Learning Spaced or The Gateway Family YMCA, visit www.tgfymca.org or call 908-688-9622.