For the unforeseeable future, students in the Oshkosh Area School District will conduct their learning virtually. In response, the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh and the Oshkosh Community YMCA have created learning pods at their locations, allowing more than 300 students access to computers, while learning and playing at a safe distance from each other.
The quick switch to all virtual learning came at a cost. The transition from before and after school care to all-day care increased program expenses mostly due to extended operating hours, smaller youth to staff ratios, and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
The Oshkosh COVID-19 Relief Fund, established jointly by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation and the Oshkosh Area United Way, provided $23,900 in grants to subsidize increased staffing costs and upgrade internet services.
The classroom-type learning pods allow 12 children and one staff at the Boys and Girls Club and 15 children and two staff at the YMCA to assist with challenges that arise from virtual learning. Kids stay in the same classroom all day, with breaks for mindful activities, reading, art, yoga, and more. Staff are not teachers, but are there to help with technical questions, keep kids on track and tackle virtual challenges.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure that our kids learn and stay physically and mentally healthy. Stressful home environments can hinder learning, so it’s important that we also continue to serve the entire family by helping them access needed resources like food and rent/utility assistance programs.
-Tracy Ogden, COO of the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh
The two organizations have done a tremendous job of keeping the children safe while learning. Since the beginning of the school year only one learning pod at each location has had to isolate at home for two weeks due to a positive COVID diagnosis. Increased safety protocols include mandatory face coverings, daily temperature readings and deep cleaning.
Without these programs, many families in the Oshkosh area would be scrambling to find childcare during the day. These organizations stepping up to fill a need in the community has lifted a huge weight off parents’ shoulders.
“Parents have shared that their kids love being able to see their friends in this controlled setting. The entire community benefits when children have a safe place during the day and parents can maintain employment.”
-Jeff Schneider, President/CEO of the Oshkosh Community YMCA