Organizations and businesses across Champaign-Urbana are stepping in to offer opportunities for kids to achieve their academic goals while giving parents a chance to maintain their careers.
One of the most comprehensive offerings is being provided by the Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign.
The Y on Monday announced the details behind its Y Academy, a program that will facilitate kids’ remote learning through their respective school districts at six sites around Champaign County.
From 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each weekday, kids can do their schoolwork (online or off) with the aid of Y-provided facilitators along with some typical “after school” types of activities in the afternoon.
“The program will focus on the academic curriculum set by the school district so in the morning when they have scheduled virtual classes with their teachers, they’re going to be doing so at those locations,” said Jeff Dobrik, the Y’s chief operating officer, “and then when they have independent learning we’re going to have staff on-site to help them through their remote learning.”
Other area non-profits and local businesses are moving quickly to provide parents of school-age children with solutions this year, with a variety of hours. Most include activities beyond supervision. All of the programs are working within public health guidelines, emphasizing small groups and limited availability.
Those places include Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club; I-Power School of Gymnastics; the Champaign Gymnastics Academy; Leaders for Life Martial Arts; Orpheum Children’s Science Museum (although museum facilities are currently closed); My Morning Out in Champaign; Lodgic Kids Camp; and Amara Yoga and Arts in Urbana.
I-Power describes its program as an “academic year camp.” A typical day will include academic learning periods to assist with distance and virtual learning tasks, with gymnastics time and group games.
“We will provide an individual learning space for your student to complete their school work, staff dedicated to support a successful virtual learning experience, and gymnastics coaches to encourage physical activity throughout the day,” says the CGA website.
Lodgic Kids Camp, which offers drop-in childcare on an as-needed basis for children ages 1 to 12, has space for school-age children – full-time or part-time.
At the Y, staff will not be teachers per se, though some retired teachers and aids will be in those roles. The typical day at a site will include school-based learning from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed further project-based learning or games (social distanced, of course), crafts or similar activities.
“We just want to be a resource for families in the community to know that they can have their child in a safe place and they’re going to have trained staff that will be able to meet their academic needs so (parents) can focus on their work career,” Dobrik said.
“It’s not ‘just babysitting’ — that’s not what we want this to be.”
The six host sites: the Y itself, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and Meadowbrook Community Church in Champaign; Salt & Light and Vineyard Church of Central Illinois in Urbana; and the St. Joseph Church of Christ.
Enrollment at each site likely will be capped at 10 kids per room with two staff members.
“It does no good if we have a large group of kids in a space small. They could have been doing that within the school building,” Dobrik said. “So it’s going to be small numbers, spaced out within the rooms, maybe 2-4 rooms or more depending on the location, to have their academic rooms. A child will not be in one room on a Monday and then bounce to another room the next day. We’re going to follow the CDC and (C-U) Public Health guidelines as well as the Illinois Board of Education. They want to make sure that kids are in the same cohort the entire time. It minimizes the risk of transmission.
“We’re taking this seriously.”
The program could grow in the future, Dobrik said, if staffing allows.
Pricing and options are available here; learn more about financial assistance and other help for families.
Looking for care in your home during distance learning? We have an article about that over HERE.
Looking for tutoring support? Here’s some resources.