By Stefanie Jackson – Neither Accomack nor Northampton schools can offer students five days a week in the classroom when schools reopen this fall, leaving parents with tough choices about how to handle childcare and virtual learning needs, but the local YMCA is ready to help.
“With school districts voting for virtual learning this fall, families may be feeling worried, asking ‘what now’ when it comes to how the academic year looks for their children and what to do in the absence of the classroom … we’ve got you,” a YMCA press release stated Aug. 10.
The YMCA is rolling out its new e-Learning Academy this fall, a full-day program featuring learning coaches to guide children through virtual learning.
The program is open to students in pre-K through eighth grade and will operate Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In the YMCA spirit of providing “access to all,” the e-Learning Academy will be available at a low cost for both members and nonmembers.
The program is being offered by the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, including the Eastern Shore Family YMCA in Onley.
The e-Learning Academy is flexible, allowing parents to send their children to the program Monday through Friday or only on the weekdays that childcare is needed.
That flexibility will be welcome on the Eastern Shore, where students in both Accomack and Northampton counties will start the school year participating in 100% virtual learning or attending classes in person two days a week.
The e-Learning Academy program includes a structured day with times for virtual learning, physical activities, and fun and imaginative play, the YMCA states.
Like most YMCA programs, the cost of the e-Learning Academy is income-based, according to the press release.
Through low-cost programs like the e-Learning Academy, the YMCA expects to provide $275,000 in financial assistance to families in need during the first nine weeks of school.
The YMCA has a 175-year history of “responding to changing needs of communities” and “a responsibility to step in and be a resource for children in a time of great need.”
“The health crisis has challenged the Y to modify youth programming for the upcoming school year across its 22 locations,” the release stated.
“In the absence of the classroom, the Y is ready to be the surrogate program to ensure social, emotional, and virtual learning are fulfilled,” said Anthony Walters, president and CEO of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads.
“We will have a program that will ensure needs are met and families are presented with options that fit this unprecedented environment,” he said.
The YMCA of South Hampton Roads is a nonprofit organization serving more than 250,000 children in coastal Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.
More than 30% of families using YMCA services receive financial assistance through its Open Doors program that is supported by donors to help others “achieve their full potential in spirit, mind, and body.”
The YMCA serves people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and incomes.
The cost of the e-Learning Academy at the Eastern Shore Family YMCA is $25 per day or $125 per week for a YMCA member; $33 per day or $165 per week for a nonmember.
For more information and to register, visit https://www.ymcashr.org/y-academy
The Eastern Shore Family YMCA is located at 26164 Lankford Highway, Onley, VA 23418 and can be reached at 757-787-5601.