Two Wallingford nonprofits are providing childcare to middle school students as part of the school district's reopening plan. The program gives students a place to go after they leave school on in-classroom days, days when there are earlier dismissals, and also on full days of virtual instruction. The Wallingford YMCA will run the program at Dag Hammarskjold and the Ulbrich Boys and Girls Club will serve children at Moran.
This is good news — for the schools, for the students, and especially for the parents. And it shows a can-do spirit as these nonprofits step up to help the town deal with this year of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have community partners that are very willing to step up if the need is identified, and that's what occurred in this case. We are very fortunate in Wallingford to have these community relationships that benefit our students and families,” said Board of Education Chairwoman Karen Hlavac. The board unanimously approved the partnership last month.
Under the district's hybrid model for reopening schools, groups of students at both middle schools rotate between in-person learning and virtual instruction at home. On in-school days, students can attend the after-school program from dismissal until 6 p.m. On virtual instruction days, they'll be at facilities operated by the nonprofits.
The program costs $25 per day, but the nonprofits will work with families to make sure no children are turned away due to financial difficulty. There is a capacity of 64 children at each school’s program. The district already offers before and after school care for elementary school students.
Providing childcare will be vital as parents begin returning to work while their children have not yet returned to full-time, in-person learning.
"It was imperative to think outside the box and work collaboratively with the resources that we have in our community to try to address that need for our middle school students," School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said in August.
Wallingford is fortunate to have such resources — ready, willing and able to fill this critical gap.