Alternative Learning Centers: An Option for Parents Worried About Remote Learning

Many local organizations and businesses are offering up places for parents to drop their kids off during their remote learning days.

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Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday that he signed an executive order to help Massachusetts parents and expand child care options for remote learning. 

The order allows the Department of Early Education and Care to authorize currently licensed afterschool and out-of-school programs to operate during the day while children are learning remotely. 

Many local organizations and businesses are offering up places for parents to drop their kids off during their remote learning days. 

i-Code in Wellesley is a national computer science education franchise. 

They traditionally provide afterschool programs for kids, but this year an in-person supervised learning support program is being offered during the day.

"We want to make sure we are able to support parents who may have important work that they need to get done," says co-founder Ganesh Shastri. "And also have a really social environment for kids where they feel like they're in school, so it's their school away from school." 

Just about 72% of the spots available in Massachusetts child-care centers before the pandemic started are expected to be there next month, the Boston Globe reports.

Students in grades 2-8 will be supervised in small groups of six or seven with kids their own age. i-Code is following the state and CDC guidelines to keep kids safe, including touchless temperature checks and social distancing. 

There are full day and half-day options, for one to five days a week. The cost runs about $8 to $10 dollars an hour based on a full day. 

"They've been out of school and don't have friends around them, they're isolated to a computer screen," says Shastri. "Our goal is to kind of change it and bring them back to some type of normalcy."

The Metrowest YMCA is also offering a full-day program called Classroom Connections. It is currently available to families in Framingham, Natick, Hopkinton and Ashland. The program is for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade and costs about $55-$65 a day. 

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"This is a challenging time I think for everybody," says Heidi Kaufman, Metrowest YMCA's executive director of education. "The program is designed to support the child during the school day while they will be supervised by Y staff to help them participate in the remote learning activities. During breaks and recess and things like that they will have the opportunity to participate in more typical YMCA activities." 

She said the program may be expanded to additional towns and middle school students. 

Check out businesses and organizations in your local community to see what's being offered. Check with your local YMCA or sports center, or other places that offer afterschool activities to see if they are providing remote learning supervision. 

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