The association is enhancing its out-of-school time program with full day care, academic supports, and an extension of daily free meal service.

The YMCA of Metro North will open full day programs for grade school students this Fall as school districts hybrid and remote learning plans for their students. The program will open to kindergarten through 6th graders with enhanced academic supports and recreational activities. Enrollment is open but limited with reduced capacities due to state guidelines. Students will begin attending September 14.

The YMCA of Metro North out-of-school time and afterschool programs continue to be a familiar place where children can be safe, active, learning and engaged during their time out of school—something especially important as children adjust to the many changes related to COVID-19. Through a balanced approach to youth development, the Y offers activities, mentorship and academic support, helping kids to thrive throughout the school year.

“Every school district in our association has different schedules for students with some hybrid and some all remote learning. We’re developing a program that will be modified at each of our branches to coordinate with the school schedule,” says Jen Conway, Executive Director, Saugus YMCA. “Everyone is juggling schedules the best they can right now with new guidance shifting daily. At the end of the day, we want to offer a stable child care option for families when their children are not in school.”

The YMCA of Metro North has modified its child care operations throughout the year. In the middle of March, they opened emergency child care centers to essential workers. They also provided virtual group learning sessions and Zoom story time reading to their Y Academy families during the shutdown. The association opened its summer camps in June with new equipment and social distancing procedures and resumed its normal infant through toddler child care programs in early July. In addition, the association operates a drop-in youth center for teens at its location in Lynn and has been distributing food and other supplies over the past six months. The modified out-of-school time program will operate in Lynn, Saugus, and Peabody. Its location in Melrose is developing a modified plan for students in their district.

“I’ve talked with many parents in the past month and there is a lot of interest in this child care options,” said Robert Lowell, Executive Director, Torigian Family YMCA in Peabody. “We have limited capacity right now due to state guidelines, but the demand is still there.   We are creating as much space as we can and hiring more teachers. We’ve also been actively seeking partners in the community who have suitable facilities so we can expand and assist more students.”

In addition to child care and academic support, the YMCA of Metro North added structured physical and recreational activities to its program, so students can get up from their seats, move around, and play with friends during the day. The association also recently received an extension from the USDA to support its food program and provide breakfast and lunch to children through December 31.

“There is so much need out there and fewer resources to go around,” said Kathleen Walsh, President and CEO, YMCA of Metro North. “We’re going to continue to think of new ways to use our spaces to benefit our community. Space is tight and guidelines for social distancing leave our capacity half of what we can normally take in. I want to invite others to partner with us and help us open up more opportunities for kids to learn and grow.”

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