COLUMBUS, Ohio — Day cares and after school programs are picking up the slack to help working parents whose children have headed back to school remotely.
The Junior Explorer Club used to provide after school care only, but when COVID-19 hit, things changed. Now that the Upper Arlington school has started remotely, they've become an e-learning center to not only help parents but also schools make it through this tough time.
Just about every hour on the hour at The Junior Explorer Club, Michele Rapp and her staff keep the center clean by wiping down everything with bleach. With 60 kids here each day from Upper Arlington schools, they have to.
The center changed its business model to survive the pandemic. They also changed it because the school district chose to start with remote learning, which left working parents in a jam. The center once had kids for only 15 hours each week exploring Columbus,
“We have these children, most of them from 8:00 (a.m.) until 6 (p.m.) So we're doing averaging about 50 hours of care a week,” Rapp said. That’s about 50 hours of making sure they’re in class online and on time.
“Our job is also to make sure they're not fooling around and talking and getting up we keep them, you know, focused on what they're supposed to be doing," Rapp said. "We help with homework where we can.”
And where they can’t, they’ve hired help in the form of a private tutoring company that parents can request with the cost being passed on.
While the transition is working, she said, it’s cost them at least $20,000 so far.
“With my training that costs a lot of extra money because we actually had to teach the younger people how to properly clean," Rapp said. "So that's more hours which means more money on top of all the supplies. It's... a moment financially.“
And that doesn’t include the additional staff and classroom furniture they had to purchase.
In spite of all of the changes and money spent, Rapp and her staff are grateful they’re still in business. Now, they wait to see what changes COVID-19 will bring as the weeks of learning progress. Rapp said if and when Upper Arlington schools shift to their hybrid model, they will have to spend money on additional drivers to transport kids to and from school multiple times each day. They aren’t sure how it will all pan out, but they’re ready for what will come.