Brandi Moore is the mother of third grade Lynchburg City School's student Lane. Brandi, a full-time working parent, was nervous about how Lane would stay on task during the school year after the local school system announced that the first nine weeks of the fall semester would be 100% online.
Moore says that the Y enabled her to work without worrying how she would provide for her family during the school closure over the Covid-19 pandemic," I was able to work from home in the beginning, but I needed to get back to the office and was faced with an incredibly difficult decision. Quitting my job wasn't ideal for our family, and we were running out of options. The Y saved us; I don't know what we would have done without them."
During the COVID-19 shutdown, the YMCA of Central Virginia has pivoted their childcare offerings multiple times to ensure that families in our community can do what is necessary for them to thrive through a time of uncertainty. Almost immediately after the initial announcement of schools closing this past spring, the Y transformed their bustling and busy before and after school programs into a childcare center for essential workers. Then, in the fall, as the plan shifted to ensure the health and safety of children and school staff to virtual schooling, the Y opened their first Virtual Learning Center, "Beyond the Bell," at the Express YMCA.
Each weekday the students complete their virtual schoolwork, play outdoors, have craft and community time, and receive nutritious lunches provided by the LCS school nutrition program. Moore said that Lane completing his work each day at the Y is a stress reliever for her family. "When I get home, I can focus on family time; having the Y during all of this is a huge relief."
Lynchburg City Schools teacher Amanda Fiefhaus recently reached out to the Y to share how her the Y's Virtual Learning Center is having a positive impact on her students and their classroom performance, "I have two students who currently attend the Beyond the Bell program at the Y. Both students have been able to show up for our morning meetings on time consistently and ready to start the day! They have been provided a safe and quiet space to interact virtually with their classmates and have headphones available. If I ever need to request a one-on-one Zoom meeting with the student, the Y has been very accommodating and makes sure the child is prepared. I'm grateful for the Y's partnership in providing a learning community for my students!"
With schools returning to in-person and hybrid models, the Y is once again shifting their focus and pivoting their services to meet community needs. The YMCA of Central Virginia is working closely with Lynchburg City Schools to ensure that families will still have childcare offerings after shifting to the hybrid model. Teena Willimas, YMCA Child Care Director, says that the Y will be announcing plans for what Beyond the Bell will look like during the second nine weeks of school. "The Y is the area's largest childcare provider in the community, and we are committed to providing care for our families. Families rely on the Y to be there during times of need such as this. We are close to finalizing plans and look forward to sharing them with our current and incoming families soon."
The YMCA of Central Virginia is a charitable non-profit organization. Donor supported financial assistance is available. Parents and caregivers can find out more about these offerings by visiting the YMCA's website at www.ymcacva.org or by emailing Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org