For families of young children, August has traditionally been a time for back to school shopping while savoring the last weeks of summer in anticipation of the first day of school. In our community, and indeed across the country, this year is different. In the wake of COVID-19, new crayons, sneakers and notebooks are not the focus. Instead, the next few weeks are fraught with questions and concerns about what the approaching school year will look like. Decisions are being made by local schools that will have both immediate and long-term impact on our kids and their families.
Since the shutdown in March, many working families are desperately looking for help as they seek to find an impossible balance between the demands of the workplace and the needs of their children. And while many youngsters have been negatively impacted by the prolonged closure of schools, those from low income households have faced the biggest challenges. The stopgap measure of remote learning can’t fill the gap for most kids, but especially for poorer students who face barriers such as limited computer use, poor wifi and internet access.
At Grenville Baker, we are ready to help. We understand that we have an important role to play in our area’s recovery. As a first step, in preparation for the fall, we have met with our local schools and have learned that plans are being made that call for both flexibility and preparation. There are various scenarios of what school will look like including a combination of in school and remote learning with staggered in school schedules for students. The challenge for the schools and our Club is to be ready to respond in real time to living with a pandemic without a crystal ball.
As we approach September, we will continue to work in concert with our schools, adjusting and adapting to provide a safe place for our kids to go when school is out. We will make it possible for working families to return to work by providing a safety net of affordable care. Our schedule may change, but our role will not. Going forward, students will need the extra support we can provide both academically and emotionally. Children who struggle in school will need extra assistance so as not to lose ground permanently.
With our construction project progressing, we expect to be in our renovated Clubhouse in early 2021. For the fall, we will secure the use of our off-site locations at the Bayville Recreation Center, Locust Valley Reformed Church, and St. Patrick’s Church. We anticipate challenges with staffing and execution, but our veteran program staff is pulling together to find a workable solution. We will institute measures that safeguard everyone including wearing face masks and gloves, disinfecting all furnishings and equipment, social distancing in all play and study areas, prohibiting the sharing of food or other items, staggered arrival and dismissal times, and increased use of hand washing stations.
The COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath will once again require our Club to adjust and to adapt to ensure that we are here to serve our community and our children. With your support, we are confident that we can meet this challenge, not just because of our history, but because of the people who make up Grenville Baker.