With nearly all Kenosha Unified Schools moving to virtual learning, local child care programs are experiencing increased demand and all the challenges that comes with it.
Andrea Honey, director of the before and after school program at Kid’s Castle, said they were taking things “day by day” as they adjusted to the sudden spike in children needing day care . Honey said the suddenness of the announcement that schools would switch to virtual learning exacerbated what would have already been a difficult adjustment.
“There really was no time to plan,” Honey said, “but our staff worked day and night. Everything was on deck.
With most schools closed, Honey said they also had to find different spaces to house their programs. Although Honey said Kenosha Unified is a “great partner” with Kids Castle, she wants there to be a liaison between KUSD and care programs in the area for situations like this.
“I think it would be helpful if we had a little more communication at those times,” Honey said. “It would help a lot if we had someone at KUSD to talk to.”
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Honey said Kid’s Castle does not normally offer daycare, but has chosen to expand its services to address the challenges facing the community.
“We’re the back-up plan for some people,” Honey said. “We really felt, for the community and for our families, that we had to do something.”
Rachel Mall, youth and family director at the Kenosha YMCA, said their schedule filled up quickly when schools started moving online.
“We’re maxed out,” Mall said. “We hit 35 overnight.”
Mall said one of the challenges so far has been ensuring they have enough healthy staff to care for children, some of whom arrive as early as 6:30 a.m. and leave until 6 p.m.
“Nobody’s too exhausted yet,” Mall joked.
Mall sympathized with the children who were new to the YMCA care program and said they had done their best to group students from the same schools together to give some semblance of continuity.
“I’m sure it’s a bit of a challenge for some of them,” Mall said. “As always, our goal is to help families. It is a privilege to help these children, especially in these difficult times.
Honey admitted that juggling staffing issues, changing schedules and kids struggling to transition to online learning has been “a journey”.
“It would have been easier not to,” Honey said with a laugh, “but we’re just not that kind of people.”
Honey was grateful to her staff, who she said worked tirelessly in a difficult and ever-changing situation.
“We’re lucky our staff are who they are,” Honey said. “We really felt we wanted to do this for the community.”
Thirty-four of Kenosha’s 40 unified school sites transitioned to virtual learning after hitting their 3% COVID case threshold, according to the KUSD website, including Roosevelt Elementary, which was added Friday.
Thirteen sites are currently scheduled to resume in-person instruction on Thursday: Dimensions of Learning, Grant Elementary, Harborside Academy, Indian Trail High School and Academy, Bradford High School, Harvey Elementary, Tremper High School, Whittier Elementary, Edward Bain School of Language and Art -Dual Language, Frank Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum (East and West Campus).