With a significant need statewide for remote online learning for the 2020-2021 school year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, North Carolina YMCAs are working to provide innovative solutions to safe, socially distanced child care and learning opportunities for working families. Across the state, YMCA associations have reached out to school districts and other local organizations to strategize and collaborate on how to support students in this new online format. Highlights of a few YMCA associations plans underway are below.
The YMCA of the Triangle convened the Boys and Girls Club, Wake Ed Partnership, local parks and recreation departments, and other nonprofits to form the Families and Schools Together (FAST) Initiative to support Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) staff, students and families. WCPSS serves 161,000+ students, so the need is high.
FAST’s primary goal is to ensure that teachers, students and families have access to safe, affordable child care that promotes extended learning and includes support for remote learning. Adhering to all local, state and federal guidelines for child care during COVID-19, the Y and other community-based organizations will offer a program that includes:
- Quality academic environment (quiet room, socially distanced student work spaces, Internet access, adults monitoring, etc.)
- Recreation and physical activity
- Extended learning activities such as social emotional learning, STEM, art, leadership development, character development.
YMCA of the Triangle is working to finalize its plans to offer remote learning centers at locations across Wake County for K-8 students.
In the Winston-Salem Area
The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina launched its E-Learning Academy last spring to support 148 K-8 children of essential workers as COVID-19 shut schools down, and is now poised to expand the E-Learning Academy to about 1,000 students in the seven counties and six school districts it serves.
The Y has always been a place for people of all ages to get and stay well – in spirit, mind and body, but now the YMCA of Northwest NC is building on its foundation of fitness, education and enrichment programs to provide a holistic, facility-based program for students impacted by COVID-19. The Y will provide full-day care with structured remote learning time, including opportunities for YMCA Scholar Leaders (high-performing high school and college students) to provide relevant academic support, supervised by YMCA adult staff.
In addition, to providing time for learning and meals, the Y will offer strong social support through social and emotional learning, CircleUps (emotionally supportive small groups where students can check in and share how they are feeling, and process what they are experiencing), and Y Selectives – activities such as robotics, drama, sports and swimming, in which students can interact with others, practice teamwork and cooperation while reinforcing healthy habits and a sense of belonging.
Rowan and Cabarrus Counties
In June, the Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA reached out to the Rowan-Salisbury School System local Assistant Superintendent of Elementary and Middle School Education and the Director of Curriculum Development to begin discussions about how to launch Y Academy, a full-day program that will provide remote learning opportunities for K-8 students as well as recreation, sports and STEM activities.
While the Y and school system are still working through some aspects of the partnership, the Rowan-Salisbury School System is supporting the Y by up-fitting technology and ensuring adequate bandwidth at the Y to support students’ remote learning. The school’s IT staff will be onsite at the Y daily to troubleshoot technology challenges and help students gain access for learning on the devices.
The Y is exploring transportation partnerships and whether local city transit could partner to move students to Y facilities for care, and also looking to partner with other local organizations that can provide resources and funding to the Y for programming that they would ordinarily deliver in schools. Because of social distancing requirements, capacity to serve the students is challenging, and the Y is also exploring additional spaces that may not be in use through local businesses and organizations.
The Y is also working on a similar program in partnership with the Kannapolis City and Cabarrus County Schools.
Stay tuned for more updates on how YMCAs across North Carolina are strengthening community by providing critical access to care and remote learning access.