PERTH, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Five days after deciding that all students would go remote, the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District implemented a child care program from essential workers. The district pooled its resources to offer the program at no cost to families from December 9 through December 23.
On Wednesday, the first day of the program, it hosted 142 children.
Broadalbin-Perth Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson decided the school would go remote starting Monday, December 7. “Remote learning is definitely not our first choice, but when nearly half of your staff is depleted because they need to quarantine, in-person teaching and learning is no longer a feasible option,” he said. “In-person learning is the goal, and every decision we make will hopefully be a step in the right direction towards making that goal a reality after the holiday break.”
The district recognized that a fully remote model created obstacles for some families. Plus, Broadalbin-Perth noted that New York state requires districts to facilitate child care for the children of essential workers—those in health care, law enforcement, emergency response, education, the military, utilities industries, and other fields.
“The essential workers in our community have been working tirelessly for months to help stop the spread of COVID-19.” Tomlinson said. “B-P’s child care program allows our essential workers to continue their important work in the community, with some peace of mind knowing that their children are being well cared for.”
Elementary School Principal Dan Casey, Assistant Principal Kerri Barker, and their staff created the program on short notice, and without it, many support staff would not be needed for the district to operate remotely. Now, they are able to support the child care program. “After polling our families to see how many of them would take advantage of a program like this, we were quickly able to shift our staff resources to make sure the program would be fully staffed,” Casey said.
The program includes breakfast, lunch, and a snack, and support staff are on hand to supervise and help with remote learning. Even so, Casey cautions families to “make sure students know they are accountable for their own work,” saying they are not there to teach. He says the program provides “a place where they can have confidence that their children are safe with adequate adult supervision.”
According to Tomlinson, if Fulton County becomes a yellow, orange, or red zone microcluster, the program will not be able to operate. In zones, schools must test 20% of in-person staff and students, but Broadalbin-Perth lacks the capacity to administer COVID-19 tests. District leaders are working with the state Department of Health to be able to administer tests after the new year, when in-person classes are scheduled to be back in session.
To date, no family has been turned away, though the program is nearing capacity. Interested essential worker families can call (518) 954-2700 for more information.
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