After-school programs could supplement lost in-person interaction

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — As school districts roll out plans for this fall semester, many kids will likely spend a lot of time at home. They’ll still be in virtual classrooms, but it’s hard to replace what face-to-face interaction can do. That’s where some after-school programs come in.

“What youth do in their out of school time is the most important times because that’s where the least amount of supervision typically occurs,” said Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club Director of Operations Charles Burton.

We all know this fall is going to look different than years past, and some are concerned about how the changes will affect kids. Don Moyer Girls & Boys Club is working to bring some of that structured time back.

“These are challenging times. You have to be very creative, and things are changing on the regular, so you have to be fluid with your plans,” said Burton.

School district leaders are still coming up with answers. In Champaign, most students will start out virtually. Only those considered higher-risk will be doing in-person.

“As this in-person unfolds over the next several weeks, if space becomes available and we find families are reaching out to say this is a real hardship, we certainly can revisit the number of students that we can serve in-person,” said Champaign School Superintendent Dr. Susan Zola.

Don Moyer leaders are also making sure it’s a safe place for kids who do come. They’re taking temperatures and sanitizing regularly. They’re also limited to 80 kids at once but are seeing only around 65 this summer. On top of being a good place for kids to learn and interact, they also want them to enjoy themselves.

“If we can provide an opportunity for a kid to just be a kid for an hour, we believe that’s a great opportunity for youth and families in our community,” said Burton.

Burton says they are still finalizing their schedule. They are looking into possibly expanding their hours, but they say they are waiting to hear what each district decides.

Some districts are trying to bring kids to school as often as possible. For example, Bismarck-Henning has a “goal” of in-person classes five days a week. Their superintendent says that could change, but they feel students respond best to that format. Of course Bismarck-Henning does have about 1,000 students total. We also talked to parents in that district who support the idea.

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