Day cares prepare for more school age kids, virtual learning
Parents are scrambling to find a space for their kids to spend the school day and learn virtually.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Children will head back to school in just a few weeks. However with many area districts planning for virtual learning at least a few days a week, working parents are scrambling to find a place for their children to spend the school day.
At Altoona Family Child Care Center, owner Jessica Schoettle says she is making space for more school age children this fall, with the demand higher than ever before.
“We get phone calls every day. Right now the demand is Wednesday because everyone needs Wednesday care. Wednesday is the day schools are closing to clean,” Schoettle says.
To help kids learn virtually, the center has WiFi available and is planning to purchase more computers. Schoettle is even looking into buying a second building to double her capacity and be able to accommodate more school age kids.
“It is not school, school is large, we will have a smaller facility and we will be able to help them do their school work,” Schoettle says. “We are looking at at least a month or two out before we get everything up and running so hopefully by then we will have a better idea for what the community needs.”
Schoettle says the center had practice helping kids with virtual learning when schools first closed due to the pandemic and the teachers were able to get through it, helping kids with zoom meetings and assignments.
Other area daycare centers like Rachel’s Place in Eau Claire are also planning for more school age children but the center is seeing higher demand than spaces available. The owner of Rachel’s Place says she is concerned over keeping up with kids all in different classes but will plan to help them with homework and assignments.
The owner of Family Tree Child Care says one of its two locations will be solely hosting school age children. The center is working on plans for staffing and equipment to help kids with their online classes.
Another concern for child care centers- keeping them free from COVID-19. Schoettle says her center is focusing on keeping the space clean with deep cleaning schedules, hand sanitizing stations for the staff and new air filters.
Kids will also have their temperatures taken before entering the facility and everyone 5 and older is required to wear a face covering.
With many questions about what this school year will bring, Schoettle says she is taking it day by day.
“It has been a hurdle especially with staffing and people being scared and if we do our best to keep germ free hopefully we can get through this together,” Schoettle says.
For advice on finding child care, watch this interview with Child Care Partnership from Hello Wisconsin.
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