GAHANNA, Ohio — After a challenging start to the school year and a teacher strike, students in Gahanna are getting back on track with the help of YWCA Kids Place before and after school programs.
Just before the sun came up, parents with kids in Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools dropped off their kids at Mifflin Presbyterian Church for the YWCA Kids Place program. It’s the first full week students are back in school on a hybrid model since the teacher strike. It's a welcome relief for grandparent Susan Myers.
“I’m very thankful for Kids Place. They made my life so much easier.”
It's easier now that she’s back to work.
“It was very frustrating and I didn't know what I was going to do because I just returned back to work from staying for six months.”
Myers' granddaughter, Bella, along with 53 other kids throughout the week, take their online classes here when they are not physically in school.
Excited to be back, Bella said, “It is really fun to see my friends again and I hope that they will be glad to see me too.”
Managing Director of Education Nichelle Harris said they’ve been adjusting at every turn since COVID-19 hit.
“We were all set to open after school programs at the Gahanna Jefferson Public School District and then, you know, when the strike happened, we realized we weren't gonna be able to have access to buildings or provide that service for families.”
With things up in the air concerning kids returning to school, Harris said, “We pivoted again. You know we came back to our partner here at Mifflin Presbyterian Church and said 'can we do a full day program?' They said yes. So then we ended up offering all day care for kids just to kind of bridge that gap between the time that they go back to school and the time that they're at home.”
Not only are they bridging the gap, but handling technology issues and locating resources to help kids through this rough patch. And now that kids are officially back to learning, Harris hopes they can continue to help families like Bella’s without the interruption of an outbreak.
Harris said she’s hoping everyone in the district will take all safety measures to help prevent COVID outbreaks in the after school program or in the school district so that kids can continuously learn in spite of the pandemic.