Under the hybrid reopening plan for Pittsylvania County Schools, one of the biggest difficulties that has arisen is child care.
Grades K-three will attend in-person classes four days a week, but grades four-12 only have two days of in-person instruction every week.
Superintendent Mark Jones acknowledged this leaves working parents, especially those with upper elementary and early middle school students who would require some level of adult supervision, in a difficult position.
“We tried to go up as far as we could,” Jones said of how many grade levels could attend in-person classes four days a week. “We would have liked to go as high as fifth grade or even sixth grade. The constraint there was both transportation with the buses and the number of students in classrooms.”
Pittsylvania County government and the school system are partnering with the Danville and Altavista YMCA locations to arrange all-day child care, as well as after-school programs, at both locations and even at a few satellite locations throughout the county. So far, a satellite child care center is being set up at the Chatham Community Center, and another is in the works at a church in Gretna.
“We have something, they have something, and you put it together and you have additional day care,” said Pittsylvania County Parks and Recreation Director Mark Moore, who is coordinating the logistics from Pittsylvania County and trying to find additional satellite locations.
The YMCA already has the resources and staff to run the camps, Pittsylvania County Schools will be providing two daily meals to students who attend and Pittsylvania County is finding satellite locations.
Surveys put out by Pittsylvania County Schools, the results of which were obtained by the Register & Bee through the Freedom of Information Act, showed concern about child care from both parents and staff. Children of staff members, regardless of their grade, will be able to attend in-person classes four days a week and even come to work with their parents on Wednesdays if approved by the principal, Jones said.
The YMCA traditionally hosts all-day camps in the summer and then transitions into after-school programs during the academic year, but they will now simply continue an all-day approach to accommodate the different schedule. Cord Cothren, senior program director at the Danville Family YMCA, said they will work with the school system and attempt to make the schedule mirror the schools and that students have designated work time and the internet access to do it.
“We’re going to try to do everything exactly the same and try to keep some consistency there,” Cothren said about the schedule at the camp.
The Danville Family YMCA will run a camp at its own location as well as the satellite program at the Pittsylvania Community Center which can house about 40 students with social distancing.
The Altavista YMCA is working with students from both Pittsylvania County and Campbell County schools, which are on a similar hybrid reopening plan. Brynn Simons, child care director for the Altavista YMCA, said that the extra cleaning and staff required means that this won’t be a profitable program.
“We want to help the parents and the community. It is hard on us, but COVID is hard on everybody.”
Danville Public Schools approved a plan on Thursday continue with fully remote learning for the first nine weeks. Lashawn Farmer, director of programs and operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Danville area, said the organization is waiting for reopening plans to be fully finalized before it rolls out its programming for the upcoming school year.
Cothren believes that there will be enough demand to create additional satellite locations for child care throughout Pittsylvania County.
“It’s just a matter of partnering up with someone that has the space,” he said.
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