As schools weigh reentry, options open for changing day care needs

With ever-changing data on the spread of COVID-19, and tweaking of public health guidance, movement toward students returning to in-school learning is throwing one more ball in the air for parents to juggle.

Most school systems are aiming toward a hybrid program, with students spending two days per week in school and two days at home, since physical distancing guidelines make it impossible to safely have all students in the building at the same time.

For parents whose jobs require them to be outside the home, that raises the question: What about day care? Even some parents who work from home would prefer their children get supervision while distance learning so the parents can concentrate on their jobs.

Many counties, including Virginia’s Loudoun County, have distance learning child care programs at local recreation centers.

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After a contactless drop-off, children have supervision while doing their school systems’ distance learning, in physically distanced classrooms. In many cases, lunch is served in the classroom.

Students have snacks and recess, following distancing guidelines.

For those enrolled In the after-school recreation program, students get indoor and outdoor free play, arts and crafts, STEM-based activities and socially-distanced games or physical activities.

In Loudoun County, the monthly cost for five-day-a-week day care during the school day is $345, while two days per week costs $136. The after-school programs that run from 2:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. have identical prices.

Some larger indoor sports complexes are retooling their facilities and business models to allow them to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.

The St. James Sports and Active Entertainment Center, a 450,000-square-foot facility in Springfield, has opened several indoor areas, where students from kindergarten through 12th grade can complete their virtual learning, and enjoy the benefits of a modern facility.

Students are divided into groups of 10 to 12, according to age. Temperatures are checked daily, as the students enter the facility, and plastic barriers have been installed. Cleaning and disinfection are continuous.

Every student has a desk that they return to. Masks are worn, except while eating and during specified physical activities.

After school hours, students are given the opportunity to use athletic courts and fields, with supervision and physical distancing.

The full-day program runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It costs $415 a month for members of the St. James and $520 for nonmembers.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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