CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — As of Tuesday, Jan. 19, most West Virginia schools have returned to class for in-person learning. Though there have been differing opinions on whether it’s safe for students and teachers to return to the classroom, after-school programs have continued to help families.
“Since the pandemic, we haven’t stopped. We are doing the enrollment process and as the schools have permitted the students to go back, we are seeing an increase in enrollment,” said Michael Farmer, the Chief Operations Officer for Step by Step.
But with so many different types of learning now offered, after school programs like the YMCA are now dealing with more than ever.
“So, we have to be prepared to take kids for a full day out right now with this blended schedule,” said Sarah Bolyard, the President of the Kanawha Valley YMCA.
And now with blended schedules where students go back to in-person learning only a few days a week, it’s become a challenge for parents and after-school programs.
“You have to have at least one instructor per 10 children. And so not knowing kind of what the day looks like or how many kids we are going to get because of schedule…it’s challenging,” said Bolyard.
With in-person learning resuming after school programs have seen an increase in certain types of families needing care.
“Before we may have seen a lot of private pay and now, we are not seeing that as much. Now we are seeing a lot of front-line worker kids,” said Bolyard.
These programs want to help in any way they can.
“We have heard from a lot of our frontline worker parents is that number one they are thankful they have someplace to go. And they have been very thankful for the state funding we have received.,” said Bolyard.
Any child of a frontline worker, regardless of income, qualifies for Connect, a reimbursement program for child care. But the funding ends on January 31.
The YMCA hopes this program is reinstated to continue to help those on the front lines who need it the most.