The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy will welcome back a small number of students back to the club sites starting April 12 after a year-long pandemic closure.
Kelly Wilson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy, said between 15 and 30 students will return to the seven school sites when school reopens after spring break.
“It’s been quite a year, a lot of things the Boys & Girls Clubs have done throughout the year to stay connected with families and provide virtual learning and a small cohort of in person, all of those things have really led up to our ultimate goal of being able to reopen in person for our kids after school,” Wilson said.
The club followed the guidance of a task force made up of five local doctors, including an infectious disease specialist along with a couple of the club’s board members.
They had stayed in close contact with the school district and when they reached the point of reopening in mid-March, the club was in continuous meeting to make sure the after-school component was ready.
“Obviously, we’re doing that following all of the CDC guidelines, the direction from our county health department as well as Tracy Unified,” Wilson said. “Things are going to look a little different. Our groups will be much smaller.”
Before the pandemic, the club had between 80 and 150 kids attend after-school programs at the different sites
Wilson said staff members are among the earliest to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as they are classified as childcare workers, and they will have received their second doses before the kids return. Staff and students will wear face coverings and maintain six-feet of social distancing.
“Our staff is excited to see the kids back in person and they are ready to go,” Wilson said.
The after-school program won’t be open to all club members when it reopens. The club has already been in contact with families of students that will be able to return to the club sites.
“We’ve been in contact with each of the principals as well to ensure that the kids who really need a spot back in person, we’re hopefully able to accommodate that,” Wilson said. “There’s going to be a lot more need than what we’re able to accommodate right now but we’re just going to have to take it one step at a time.”
The club sites will offer programs that include homework help and tutoring to help keep them on track.
“Just providing that space to do some enrichment type of things where the kids in a safe way are able to socialize, were able to do some modified games and activities and I really think the kids have been wanting to do these types of activities for so long, I’m just excited we’re finally here and even though it’s different get back to a little bit of normalcy in their lives,” Wilson said.
The club will have the kids back for two months before the school year ends in late May.
A summer session is tentatively planned for four school sites from June 7 through July 16.
The summer session will be able to accommodate a larger number of students because teachers won’t be on the campuses, and they will have more room to spread kids out to maintain social distancing.
“During that time we’re really going to focus on that learning loss that we know kids have suffered during this past year so a big part of our summer program will be focusing on the academic side, that learning loss and really helping the kids get caught up and being prepared to go into the next school year,” Wilson said.
During the pandemic, the club had a learning hub with 15 kids at the Monte Vista site on Lowell Avenue since September for students that were having connectivity issues, equipment problems or families that had to work and leave the kids at home alone. More than 200 students participated with the club virtually.
“We’re just absolutely thrilled that we’re able to open for the kids that we are,” Wilson said. “We know that through this time a lot of our kids have been struggling. It’s been a year and they need that kind of social-emotional element that I think the club is really positioned well to help the kids.”
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