Gone are the days that school buses pull up to the Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley to drop off students for after-school care and activities.
As schools in Roseburg reopened for distance learning Tuesday, the organization has taken on a different strategy amid the coronavirus pandemic and ever-changing state guidelines and regulations.
The club opened to first graders through seventh graders from 12:30 to 6 p.m.
“The idea would be that our staff would be there to assist with online learning. Not as teachers, but as facilitators,” CEO Bryan Lake said. “Make sure they’re connected and stuff like that.”
Inside the club, there are six rooms that have been transformed into learning spaces for children. Each child will have their own desk and face another person.
Each room will also have a designated gender-neutral bathroom. All students in the purple room will use the purple bathroom, all students in the blue classroom will use the blue bathroom, etc. Only one person will be allowed in the bathroom at any given time.
Each classroom has been outfitted with hand sanitizer and staff underwent in-person training to learn about the new guidelines.
In the community room, a sign displayed the rules which included keeping a pool noodle of distance between yourself and other students. Pool noodles were placed on the staff desk.
Food will be brought to the classroom, instead of being served in the cafeteria, and each group will have a designated time when they can play in the gym or outside. But there will be breaks in between the groups so staff members can clean.
The club will be open to about 80 children each day.
“We know there are just a lot of working parents,” Lake said. “That’s been the hardest part, that we can’t serve more.”
YMCA of Douglas County reopened its child care on Aug. 31 for preschool through fifth grade, with a limited amount of spots available.
Janon Rogers of Rogers Family ATA Martial Arts transformed martial arts studios in Roseburg and Cottage Grove into learning spaces for children.
Rogers said remote learning is “crushing to many parents who need a solution to having to work full-time.”
Last week, the Oregon Department of Education, the Early Learning Division, and the Oregon Health Authority asked families to put safety first as they look for child care or learning options.
“Multi-family learning groups may slow the process of returning to school by creating more opportunities for spread among students and families,” Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said. “These groups also risk leaving out students who are already underserved by our school system. I deeply hope that as students and parents grapple with multi-family learning, they take into account the health and equity implications of these gatherings.”
For working parents finding care has also been a problem, as child care centers were closed in March and only those who applied for an emergency license were able to reopen.
“We want to support parents during this difficult time, and understand child care is both a critical need and hard to find,” said Early Learning System Director Miriam Calderon. “Our solutions to this challenge must recognize that the regulations we have in place are working to make child care safe to use during this pandemic, and prevent community spread of the virus. The regulations are more important than ever as we work together to make it safe for children to return to school.”
As of Sept. 4, there were 65 emergency child care operators in Douglas County, which included head start facilities and private care. Other local organizations and churches have also opened the doors to provide learning spaces for children.
Roseburg Public Schools and the Roseburg Education Association came to an agreement last month that child care would be provided at each school for the staff members at that site.
“It really shows the commitment that the board and administration has for teachers to pass those memorandums today,” REA President Camron Pope said at the school board meeting when the board approved child care. “To really show staff that being in the building is very important and that you also understand that we have families and we have children of our own that we’re very concerned about, but we’re also concerned about our students.”
Supervision for the children of school staff will be provided by members of the Roseburg school district staff.
All students in the Roseburg school district are expected to take part in classes throughout most of the day, with hours varying at each school but mimicking a normal school day.
If the health metrics allow, students in kindergarten through third grade will return to school in Roseburg on Oct. 5. Lake said the club will adjust the plans when that happens and those school buses dropping kids off for care might come back.