YMCA closes branches to public, reopens them as daycare for healthcare, first responders

WATCH: YMCA closes branches to public, reopens them as daycare for healthcare, first responders

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South closed all 11 of its locations Wednesday night, but the facilities won’t be closed for long.

YMCA staff told FOX13 they’re reopening their branches this week as specialized childcare for first responders and healthcare workers.

“As we think about what could potentially be coming with the virus that’s in front of us, we need our healthcare providers and our hospitals so we’re going to be there beside them for whatever they need,” said Brian McLaughlin of the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South.

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McLaughlin said the service will be available for kids ages three (potty trained) to 12 years old. He said they’ll be prepared to care for 120 kids right away.

YMCA said healthcare workers and first responders need to bring their hospital or work badge to qualify for the service.

“We make sure that our workers and our kids are screened before they come in, before they can even register and then while they’re there, it’s about small groups, handwashing and making sure the kids are engaged in a safe way,” said McLaughlin.

YMCA staff said they’re following the White House’s latest guidelines by keeping groups of kids to 10 or less.

This specialized childcare will also be available seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to accommodate 12-hour shifts.

“The idea is that we’re serving kids and essential personnel that need to work - so we want to get the kids in and we’ll deal with the other stuff later,” said McLaughlin. “To make sure that the people who are taking care of people who are getting sick are there and available to do.”

McLaughlin said the YMCA will keep this specialized childcare going as long as it’s needed. Right now they’re starting with six locations, but they’re ready to ramp it up if needed.

For more information and to sign up please visit ​www.ymcamemphis.org​ or call their Customer Support Center at 901-766-7677.

YMCA Partnering with School Districts for Meal Services:

The YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South will be joining its school partners to provide children access to meals at designated sites throughout our community.

Meals are scheduled to be served between 11:00 a.m - 1:00 p.m beginning March 23. For a full list of meals site locations, visit: ​www.ymcamemphis.org