Navigating the Maze Back to School!
This has certainly been a summer like no other. Our Y has been able to partially re-open thanks to Executive Orders. It has been wonderful to recall staff and get them back to work, though it is definitely not business as usual. Job descriptions have been amended to add in health screening duties, staff manuals have been updated to include the latest cleaning and sanitizing protocols, masks have become part of our daily uniform along with a Y shirt and name tag. It’s all worth it to safely welcome back our members to lap swimming in our indoor pool and enjoying the camaraderie of a Group Exercise class outdoors under the large tent at our Y facility.
The next step is to successful launch Back to School 2020. The West Essex Y has been the leading provider of child care for working families in Livingston, West Orange, Roseland and Caldwell for many years. Our Before and After School programs are normally filled to capacity well before the school year starts, as we employ over 100 staff members and serve 900 children and families daily by providing well supervised, safe, caring and enriching wraparound care around the school day.
There has been a tremendous amount of discussion this summer on the best way for each community to go back to school this Fall. After endless Zoom calls with our school districts and many, many hours planning our Y programming to support the school day only to have start again because the plan that we worked on last week needs to be modified due to yet another change, we are now beginning to start registration, which is both exciting and terrifying.
The West Orange School District is starting the first marking period with remote learning then merging into their A/B Hybrid model for the second marking period. We are thrilled at the prospect of having students back at St. Cloud School for full day child care with remote learning support provided by the Y, although enrollment looks much lighter than in previous years. At the Y, we love to find solutions to community issues, and it makes sense that we are the ones to reconvene children and staff together safely for learning and enrichment after launching Emergency Child Care in the spring and a successful summer camp season. One thing we will be looking to capitalize on is time outdoors for learning (and mask) breaks and physical activity. It won’t be long before we can introduce the students to the Community Garden and to engage them in helping to tend to the vegetables. Our basil is thriving and the cucumbers and tomatoes are doing well, and we can’t wait to see our students learning and growing too! We continue to find our way through the maze.
About the Grantee
The West Essex YMCA, a Branch of the Metro YMCA of the Oranges, is a mission driven organization and trusted community partner in youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y has been serving the needs of the community for over 50 years, providing a wide variety of activities and programs in an environment welcoming all.