YMCA partnering with SCS to provide in-person care, virtual learning support, & meals for students

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Monday, nearly 100,000 Shelby County Schools students will be heading back to school virtually. That means some essential workers need to find childcare.

YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South is partnering with Shelby County Schools to help families and students navigate the virtual learning environment brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m trying to figure out my situation, because my kids have to be home during virtual learning,” said SCS parent Royal Smith.

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Shelby County Schools is welcoming Royal Smith’s two sons back to school Monday, but she’s faced with a dilemma.

“I don’t understand how I’m going to make that happen, because I have to be at work,” said Smith.

FOX13 asked whether Smith would consider dropping her kids off at one of the YMCA virtual learning sites.

“Yeah, because or else I would have to be a stay-at-home mom. And where is the income?” said Smith.

Smith is an essential worker, so she can register her kids with the YMCA’s Virtual learning academy. It offers care for SCS students.

“Giving our kids an opportunity to learn, grow, be loved in a safe environment,” said Ricky Floyd with the Pursuit of God Transformation Center.

Pursuit of God Transformation Center is one of more than 70 sites across Shelby County serving kids this school year. As soon as you walk through the doors you will notice safety is a top priority. There are hand sanitizer dispensers spread out throughout the facility. There are also social distancing markers on the floor to encourage people to stay at least six- feet apart from one another and there are signs posted on the walls saying wash your hands for at least 20-seconds.

"We're providing a safe, secure, sanitized loving place for kids to give some kind of peace during this crisis," said Floyd.

The safety measures make Smith more comfortable registering her kids for a program to keep an eye on them during the school day.

“I have to find one suitable for them that I feel comfortable being at,” said Smith.

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There are thousands of jobs classified as essential, including healthcare, grocery store, and gas station workers.

“It generally covers most people that have an essential job to operate as a community,” said Brian McLaughlin, YMCA Chief Operating Officer.

If you’re not an essential worker, but still need childcare there are other options.

“One is that a parent can pay for the service, but most parents will qualify for some sort of assistance if not free care. The Y does accept VHS vouchers,” said McLaughlin.

The partnership will provide full-day, in-person care and virtual learning support at site locations throughout Shelby County.

Meals will also be provided.

This care will provide support before, after, and during the virtual school day, along with meals and enrichment activities to keep kids engaged throughout the day, according to a press release.

“Our District recognizes the need for families to have additional support in their child’s virtual learning experience during these challenging times,” said Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray. “To meet this need, we are proud to expand our partnership with the YMCA to provide Virtual Learning Academies and supplemental meals to our families.”

Jerry Martin, President and CEO of the YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South, stated, “The YMCA is honored to partner and support Shelby County Schools to serve the immediate needs of our community, especially our children. We truly are better together. We cannot do this work alone and are grateful to collaborate with our partners to provide these virtual learning academies and community meal sites.”

The Virtual Learning academies will help to bridge the gap for working parents by providing in-person care options for students to safely participate in their virtual learning classrooms. The program will also work to continue the meal services that the YMCA, Shelby County Schools, and other partner organizations have worked to provide since March of this year.

These virtual learning academies will run Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 70+ sites throughout Shelby County.

Registration for the Virtual Learning academy begins on Wednesday, August 26 at 10 a.m.

This service is provided at no cost to essential workers. In addition, the Y has secured funding to offset fees for families who qualify based on income and established need.

To register and find more information, please visit www.ymcamemphis.org/virtuallearning.

As the new school year starts, child nutrition is a critical part of education and ensuring students are fueled to learn and succeed. While SCS students will not be attending classes in-person, the Central Nutrition Center (CNC) will be working with every school in the District to provide grab and go bulks meals for virtual learners. As part of the joint commitment to healthy children and eliminating hunger, SCS and the YMCA are also continuing their partnership to offer breakfast, lunch, evening snack, and supper 7 days a week at community sites. The YMCA will be providing children with snack and a dinner meal every day, that families can pick-up at community meal sites throughout Shelby County. Snack and Dinner Meal distribution at community sites will begin the week of August 31, 2020.

For a list of community meal sites or for more information on student meals and nutrition, or to become a host site for meal service, please visit www.ymcamemphis.org/food.

In addition, the YMCA is hiring employees to work in our virtual learning academies. Hiring events are all week Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. at 7171 Goodlett Farms Parkway in Cordova.

For more information, please visit www.ymcamemphis.org/workinchildcare.

Follow this link to watch a video about the joint announcement.

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