SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — As schools are back in full swing, a big program that made life a little easier for parents has also returned this year: after-school programs.
"This year it's back in business, we're at all our 150 locations as north as Oceanside, south as San Ysidro, and all the way in El Cajon," said Ed Stanfield, the YMCA's Director of Child Youth Development for San Diego. "With kids going back to school, their learning will happen on campus on a school day so we can get back to what we're really good at which are before and after school programs."
The Y wasn't entirely gone last year. The program that mixes activities with daycare was limited to students of parents that were essential workers in schools.
"There's been something for parents and families who've needed to work this entire time we've been going on so we're experienced at this point at doing this type of work," added Stanfield.
By that type of work, he means getting a head start on implementing COVID guidelines for kids.
"We've revamped a lot of activities to be safe for COVID ... Less touching, less quarters and really spread those out and getting out to try those ideas and to make sure kids are having a great time being with each other and not cooped up w families or in a cubicle in classes," said Michelle Malin, senior vice president for San Diego's Boys and Girls Clubs.
Malin said she's also eager to welcome students back to their 12 clubhouses and programs at their seven campuses.
"On a day-to-day basis, they're not moving between rooms, helping groups separate, keeps things cleaner and more organized that way, we're making sure kids who are coming aren't exhibiting symptoms," said Malin. "Sick kids are staying home and communication between parents and staff is key."
But both organizations, along with other daycare sites, face another major hurdle aside from COVID-19.
"The real limitation is having enough staff to fill programs for all parents who need them for those going back to work," said Stanfield.
They haven't met full capacity quite yet, but say if you're interested in enrolling your student, inquire sooner rather than later.
"Some sites have limited space available because of staffing so as we add more staff we'll be able to add more children," Malin said.
For now, they embrace what they can control, which is finally connecting staff with students for the first time in over a year.
"Hearing the stories of the kids, many have been home by themselves or going to work with their parents. Not socializing with friends so it's great to have them back in the club communicating with other people," said Malin.
"It's the social connection for kids, it's the ability for parents who need to work not have to worry when they go to work to make sure their kids are in a safe environment with caring people that'll help their students succeed," Stanfield said.
Enrollment for those programs won't be as high as the years pre-pandemic, but they're estimating up to 60 students could enroll at each school where services are offered.