‘Absolutely worried’: Coronavirus creates uncertain future for Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center

Center’s funding is now in flux

ROANOKE, Va. – “Absolutely worried it could shut down,” Wanda Pedigo said about the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center’s fate during the coronavirus outbreak.

Pedigo’s 10-year-old grandson has been going to the center in Roanoke for four years.

“Since he’s been there, he’s had one-on-one instruction with many teachers there. They have taken good care with him as far as his speech, his behavior, the manners and stuff like that,” said Pedigo.

The coronavirus has left funding for the center in flux.

Funding is provided through the state’s Children’s Services Act, but according to the CEO of St. Vincent’s Home, which runs the center, whether funding will continue to be provided since students are not there is unclear.

“We are not thinking about closing down," CEO Angie Leonard said. "Obviously, that is a possibility in the future if this drags out too long, but I’m not talking about layoffs to my staff. What I’m saying to my staff is, we will do everything it takes. We will go to emergency money; we will apply to stimulus money.”

How long the center can last without funding is also unclear.

If the center has to close, the goal would be to eventually reopen all four locations.

“It would be a slow process,” Leonard said.

Pedigo doesn't know what will happen to her grandson if the center closes.

“I don’t know that he would ever get the care and the supervision and the one-on-one that he gets there at any other school," Pedigo said.

If you would like to help the center, you can donate here.