Boys & Girls Club Columbus Unit Director Brittany Turner speaks at a socially-distanced staff meeting at the facility at 1815 14th Ave. N. Even though Golden Triangle clubs will remain closed through the summer, online learning is available. Photo by: Courtesy photo
July 4, 2020 7:55:03 PM
Activity and laughter would normally fill every Boys & Girls Club facility in the Golden Triangle on a typical July weekday. Combined, the clubs in Columbus, Starkville and West Point serve between 400 to 500 children per summer day, said Columbus Unit Director Brittany Turner. Due to COVID-19, however, the buildings are much quieter, having been closed to students in the interest of community health. The decision for all three clubs to remain closed for the rest of the summer has been made, said Turner.
"We are currently working on a plan to safely reopen our doors for the return of our members," the director remarked. "We're closely monitoring the increase in the number of (coronavirus) cases in our area and statewide, and we're also working closely with the school district to see what plans they have in place."
When club doors reopen, strict safety precautions will be in place.
With the severity of the virus outbreak evolving and the anticipated fall semester approaching, a club task force is focused on flexible preparedness.
"We're trying to work on as many plans of action for anything we can possibly foresee coming," Turner said. "I know in one of our classrooms, we have at least 10 different ways that we can pivot if things go a certain way. We're just trying to be proactive with planning."
Online learning, weekday meals
On-site activity may be temporarily suspended, but Boys & Girls Club staff are staying connected with members and their parents during summer months.
"Our organization offers daily virtual learning and Zoom classes online for kids," explained Turner. "We are doing whatever it takes to make sure we curve any learning gap members may have during this time by virtually providing our Summer Brain Gain program."
Interactive lessons are uploaded daily on the club social media pages and website, bgcgoldentri.org. Virtual programs will continue through July 24.
In addition, Grab & Go meals for all youth up to 18 years old are available for pick-up weekdays at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the Columbus and West Point Clubs.
"We also try to call parents once every two weeks just to check in with them," Turner said. "We send them emails weekly, and sometimes on a daily basis, just to stay connected. And hopefully before summer ends, we can have another parade."
The Columbus club hosted a parade June 11, inviting families to drive through the parking lot where staff greeted them with cheerful signs, treat bags and information on the virtual learning schedule.
Boys & Girls Club After School registration information will be available at the website bgcgoldentri.org, said Turner.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
5. Photo: Rachel Ann Wakefield gallery exhibit ENTERTAINMENT