CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County will house YMCA childcare programs at five local schools to help provide support for families during virtual learning. According to a Facebook post from Chesterfield County, they hope to provide a safe day support model for 1 to 2 percent of elementary school students through the partnership with the YMCA.
The YMCA released a statement to 8News where they announced their partnership with Chesterfield and Henrico County. The Y says the program is for working families who need support during the school day.
YMCA said local governments will be allocating funds from the CARES Act and providing space in high schools to make sure this program is accessible to families. Funds from the CARES Act will reduce the cost to $100 per week. Financial assistance is available for families who need support.
Director of Communications and Media for Chesterfield County, Susan Pollard says the YMCA programs will all be held at the following high schools:
- Clover Hill
- Thomas Dale
Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors member Leslie Haley says the plans can be expanded or reduced based on need and what information they receive from county residents.
This agreement is raising some serious concerns from parents. Some are questioning how it’s ok and safe to open the schools for a private organization this Fall while the public schools are virtual.
Haley says that County Supervisors are a separate entity from the school district and they are trying to find ways to accommodate their residents since schools can’t open for face-to-face learning.
Chesterfield resident Carrie Casey is the parent of three children. She is one of several parents and grandparents who have reach out to 8News baffled by the school districts decision to shutter schools to in-person learning this fall while the county opens the schools to select students.
The YMCA declined a request from 8News for an interview but says the program will be similar to the service provided to essential personnel during the onset of the pandemic. According to the YMCA’s website, the student success centers will ensure students are engaged with their teachers through virtual learning.
Chesterfield County’s Facebook page says – “we understand the concerns of parents regarding any model using schools during the day with students. We are relying on the YMCA’s expertise and experience.”
Casey says the focus should be serving those most in need- students with disabilities and those facing socioeconomic challenges- not offering learning to just those who can pay for it.
“It’s feels like pay to play,” Casey said.
Haley says the YMCA just wants to cover overhead costs. Chesterfield County will not be charging the YMCA rent and will use federal relief funding to help reduce the costs of the services.
Debbie Bailey, school board chair, said she asked Superintendent Mervin Daughtery to look into an arrangement to help teacher’s children have a space to learn while their parents were teaching class.
“In our discussions with the board of supervisors, we suggested that only a few high school common areas would be used, such as auditoriums and cafeterias. No classrooms will be used as teachers may be virtually teaching from their rooms,” she said.
The school board will determine how to utilize school space once phased reopening happens, if at all, and how this may impact the YMCA child care. Additionally, the school district won’t profit from any agreement that the county may make with the YMCA.
For more information about the program, click here.