As over 18,000 Lycoming County students head back to school on Sept. 1 and about 9,000 prepare to learn through a hybrid system with one or two days a week spent at home, working parents are struggling to get back to the office.
“Having to manage what your kids do three days a week is a new challenge for many working families,” said Peter Swift, executive director at Camp Susque.
Providing safe learning spaces may be the answer to keeping kids busy during the day, according to organizers at Camp Susque. The area youth camp has partnered with a number of area churches and nonprofits to provide locations for kids to work on the days their district is using for remote learning.
“We’re committed to this,” Swift said. “It’s an important need in the community.”
Working with Firetree Place and area churches like City Alliance, New Life OPC, City Church and others, the goal is to provide two churches, or locations, per school district so that there is enough space to provide proper social distancing at each location.
But it’s not just a place to sit and work, Swift said.
“We‘re not just providing a space, we’re providing an education,” Swift said. “We want this to be a day where they are moving forward in their learning.”
While the kids will spend a few hours a day in remote classroom-style learning, Susque will then provide other activities and structured learning for the rest of the day with their own staff or volunteers at the churches.
Acquiring funding for the program will be the biggest challenge, Swift said. Susque has applied for a portion of the $10.2 million in CARES Act funds proportioned to Lycoming County for due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding request will cover the 16-week fall semester.
Even without funds, Swift said Susque still plans to offer the program for as many as the facility can handle. The camp can accommodate about 75 students and if other churches are able to bring on non-paid volunteers, then more spots may open up.
“It is a challenge, especially if you don’t know if there will be funding to pay them,” Swift said.
Enrollment for the program will open by the end of this week, Swift said, adding that placements are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Updates will be posted on Camp Susque’s Facebook page.