ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke County schools will be meeting both in-person and virtually this school year, a plan that doesn’t work for everyone.
Recognizing that, Roanoke County Public Schools created a task force with the YMCA, The United Way of Roanoke Valley, Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Virginia, Prevention Council of Roanoke County and area churches to establish new day programs for parents who are impacted by this major change.
“With the current schedule we are having to adopt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that parents are facing some significant challenges when it comes to child care,” said Dr. Ken Nicely, superintendent of Roanoke County Public Schools.
This new partnership will help provide low-cost day programs for students ages 12 and under.
Tom McCracken is the co-chair of the task force responsible for finding the solution.
“We want to get all these different key players, stakeholders in a student’s education and bring us all together and trying to connect these resources as a one-stop shop,” McCracken said.
“We are excited to partner with Roanoke County Public Schools, our area out-of-school time providers and others in the community to create a feasible solution for students and families in Roanoke County as schools start. We are committed to work together to ensure that programs adhere to the same level of safety, security and health guidelines from the CDC and Virginia Department of Health,” said United Way of Roanoke Valley President and CEO Abby Hamilton.
“We plan to launch several new program sites to meet the needs of our community and we need qualified staff immediately,” said Boys & Girls Club of SWVA CEO Michelle Davis.
B&GC and YMCA are currently hiring for school year programming across the region. Both part-time and full-time positions are available and will need to be filled for new sites to open.
Laura Bowman is the chair of the Roanoke County Parents Advisory Council and said this is a solution to many parents’ chief concern.
“Single parent families, both parents working, what would the children be doing during the day when they’re not in the school building,” Bowman said.
McCracken said these programs are different than a normal school day because it spreads students out across multiple locations instead of congregating at a central school. He said that provides space for appropriate social distancing.
“By us coming together and offering different programs at different locations at different sites, we’re able to bring that number back down. For example a pod of eight over here and a pod of eight over here,” McCracken said.
As new day programs are established, they will be added to the current United Way Smart2Start program, which provides a single-source online option for parents to apply for day programs at www.smart2start.org.
“We want to provide the leadership where necessary to bring those partners together so that’s what we’re trying to do is step up and provide the leadership to get people,” Nicely said.