ATLANTA — Many students across Metro Atlanta will have to start the school year from home learning virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta is pivoting its strategy.
“Beginning on Aug. 17, we are going to be opening up some of our clubs again. We have been working with our families over the last few months during this closure and staying connected with them,” David Jernigan, President/CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, told 11Alive.
“We are hoping to be there, especially for families who may not have a place for their kid during this distance learning phase,” he explained.
Jernigan recently stepped into the role of President and CEO. He oversees 20 clubs over several counties.
The Boys and Girls Club helps about 2,500 across the area in underserved communities. Clubs will now operate at 25 percent capacity.
“We will probably be in the 600-700 range of kids coming through our doors,” Jernigan said.
“We will have a lot of measures in place to protect them. Kids and staff will be wearing masks and of course we’ll have all the cleanings and those types of procedures in place. We will keep kids in small pods throughout the day. Eight to one staff, kid ratio. Those kids will travel together so we don’t have a lot of mixing,” he explained.
In some areas, instead of functioning along the lines of the traditional after-school model, clubs will largely support kids in their virtual learning during the day.
This means clubs with this new model will open its doors from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“If they are in the school district where the doors can physically open, our services will be focused on serving kids as an after-school service,” Jernigan mentioned.
He also said staff will be trained on safety protocols and supporting virtual learners.
“I will say that the districts around us have stepped and offered a number of things to help support us. Everything from sending ... support to even potentially sending in instructional support,” Jernigan stated.
He said they will target members first and then branch out to other families.
Jernigan also said that this comes with a big price tag because they don’t usually keep doors open 8 hours a day.
It’s expected to cost several hundred thousand dollars more compared to previous years.