SHEBOYGAN — As schools continue to remain in virtual learning formats, families continue to struggle to find ways to care for their children and students continue to struggle with adapting to a new way of learning.
The Sheboygan Area School Districts already have existing before and after school programs and partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sheboygan, but those programs have only expanded to try to help families during this time.
What child care options or programs are available throughout Sheboygan for families during the school day?
The Boys & Girls Club's in-person before and after school programs at Lake Country Academy, Cooper, Jefferson and Longfellow elementary schools are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. However, the Sheboygan Falls Club and the Club at the Y in Sheboygan programs remain open and continue to expand.
The Club at the Y hours have changed from 3 to 7 p.m. to noon to 5 p.m. to help accommodate students who are struggling with online learning or who need a place to go. The program is designed more for middle and high school students, and is only open to existing Boys & Girls Club members at this time. The program currently has about 30 students.
"We've been working with teachers and principals and really just doing all we can to be a resource for students, many of whom may not have internet at home or a good support system at home—or maybe they just aren't doing well in this virtual learning," explained CEO Christina Singh. "We've been doing this since September, and it's going really well in terms of the environment we're able to create for these teens. We look forward to continuing that as things change with the schools. Our goal is to remain that resource."
Just this week, the club has also begun working with local churches to provide those same resources to elementary students. This program will also be available for club members from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
"We see a number of kids who, through a variety of reasons, aren't able to be in such a virtual learning environment," Singh said. "We had a child come into our program and hadn't been connected to school in about two weeks. This was something that we're hoping now to help with. At home, they may not have the right resources or support system. This child wasn't engaging in school and was completely disconnected for several weeks. We're finding that when we're able to get kids through our doors and into the right environment, they can engage with school and connect with their teachers to hopefully get caught up. We want to minimize those gaps for kids who are now potentially disconnected or many weeks behind.
Singh said the goal is to open these programs up to students outside of the Boys & Girls Club, but that will come with added staffing and resources to be able to do so safely.
"We are accepting applications into our teen program right now, so that's something that's available," she said. "But we're looking to hopefully be able to open up applications more to be able to offer this program to more people."
For those who are not members, the organization offers "Club on the Go," which includes daily content of activities by age group, live sessions for mentoring, homework help and more. Those resources can be accessed at https://thepositiveplace.com/club-on-the-go/.