By Gracie Hart Brooks
The Madison Boys & Girls Club will reopen next week with a new format.
Typically, the club serves approximately 100 children, ages 6-18, in an after-school format. However, that will change Sept. 14 as the club moves from after-school to full-day services.
“To address increased academic, mental health and childcare needs, the club is expanding from its traditional after-school program to provide full-day services from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.,” Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia Director of Grants and Communications James Compton said. “There will not be a separate after-school program.”
The idea is the club will serve as an academic support center for the virtual curriculum students receive from school. The club will offer homework help and tutoring programs in a safe and enriching environment for online learning for approximately 60 students per week. Opportunities will also include STEM activities and social-emotional wellness programs to promote mental health. The Orange Boys & Girls Club recently opened a similar support center.
The Madison club will focus on fourth and fifth grade students for the time being. Compton said this is because they are the youngest group of children who are physically in school the least. Under the Madison County Public Schools blended learning program, students in fourth and fifth grade attend school in-person two days per week, with three days virtual. Students in pre-kindergarten through third grade attend four days per week with one virtual.
“With limited space capacity and safety protocols dictating only one group of kids per day, the club decided that serving fourth and fifth graders, who are only in school two days per week, was most needed,” Compton said. “[The school division] has been supportive of the decision.”
Fourth and fifth grade students in the school division’s blending learning program are split into two groups, A and B, with the first attending school in-person Monday and Tuesday and the second Thursday and Friday. The group A students enrolled in the Boys & Girls Club program will then attend the club Thursday and Friday with group B students attending Monday and Tuesday. Similar to the school division, Wednesday the club will be closed for increased cleaning and program planning.
The club is prioritizing membership for younger children and working families with no other childcare options. A survey was sent to parents to assess the need in each household. Criteria include single parent status, whether or not one or both parents are working, ages of children in the home and free and reduced lunch qualification. Compton said, as requested by the school division, nine slots have been allocated for the children of school staff, three of whom were already club members.
Membership fees will remain low to ensure affordability. Typically, the fee is $50 for the school year and $100 for the summer program.
Expanding to a full-day program during the school year is expected to increase operating costs by $140,000. Due to COVID-19, the club has been unable to host its usual special event fundraisers, including the Kentucky Derby gala, which usually amount to $105,000 in revenue. To support the program, the club has actively sought funding from its communities and donors.
“The club’s ability to provide services beyond December heavily relies on financial support,” Compton said.
The club has requested $125,000 in CARES Act funding from the Madison County Board of Supervisors. The supervisors have voiced support for the funding. It was included in a public hearing on the overall CARES Act funding which was scheduled for Tuesday after presstime.
In addition, Compton said $75,000 was received from Culpeper residents Joe and Linda Daniel along with $10,000 from the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund.
“The club continues to seek community support, which will allow the club to be flexible in addressing highest needs and serve as a reliable resource in responding to COVID-19 beyond the first four months,” he said.
The Madison Boys & Girls Club has been closed since March when COVID-19 first hit Virginia. However, the club hosted a free eight-week virtual program including home deliveries of books and STEM and art supplies. Free virtual opportunities will continue as able for those who cannot physically be in the club.
To promote the health and safety of all members and staff, everyone entering club facilities will receive daily temperature checks and health screenings. Face masks will be mandatory indoors and clubs will be professionally cleaned after each program day. Additionally, all staff have undergone a mandatory two-week safety training.
Should any club staff or members test positive for COVID-19, the club will close for a minimum of seven days. The individual who tests positive will not be able to return for at least 14 days or until proof of a negative test is supplied.
The club will follow local school decisions. Should the school division return to 100% virtual learning, the club will temporarily cease in-person programs until students return to classrooms.
For more information about the Madison Boys & Girls Club, or to donate, visit https://bgclubcva.org/clubs/madison-club/.
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