KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With schools across the state and in East Tennessee switching to online learning, children are now home throughout the day when they would normally be at school –causing problems for some parents who are needed to work right now.
The East Tennessee YMCA is helping out.
The nonprofit is running emergency child care camps for the children of first responders, healthcare workers and other essential workers.
Rebekah (Bekah) Grace, the VP of Marketing for East Tennessee YMCA, and Executive Director of the C.W. Cansler Family Y says they decided to hold these camps to meet that need for parents.
“With schools out, there are so many children that are at home and even though some parents are able to stay at home, or work from home, not everybody is,” Grace said.
The camps are a way for kids to have fun, while continuing to learn school curriculum.
They also provide structure for the children, which is very important during this uncertain and ever-changing time.
Grace says, “We found that not only is it important for kids to maintain structure and routine, but they need to be able to just have fun and be a kid.”
The Y is taking the necessary precautions to keep kids and counselors safe by following CDC guidelines.
- Taking temperatures at the door before a person enters
- Conducting a wellness check with three questions
- Requiring everyone to wash their hands upon entering the building
- Limiting groups of children to eight
- Marking floors with tapes to enforce social distancing
- Sanitizing toys — and rotating them in and out after being played with
Each group of eight kids also has a dedicated counselor and a dedicated cleaner.
The Y goes a step further to ensure safety by arming each room with a humidifier that has ionopure disinfectant, FDA and CDC approved, to help sanitize the air.
Grace says parents have been very appreciative of this camp, especially in households where both parents are still working out in the community.
“There’s one family where dad’s a vet, mom’s a nurse and it’s ‘what are we supposed to do with our children,’ so for them, I mean, this was crucial,” Grace said. “This was vital for them to maintain to be able to just pay their bills.”
The camps run from 6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and cost around $23 per day. There is a discount for Y members, and they do offer scholarships for those struggling with costs.
The camps have week-to-week registration and still have roughly 100 spots available amongst their multiple locations. Parents can register for as many or as few days as needed. For more information, click here.
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