While many people are staying home during the novel coronavirus pandemic, there are others — safety officials, medical, labor and government workers — who are deemed to have essential jobs, which for some could mean leaving children at home unattended.
The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley is keeping its doors open to the community so those essential workers can drop off their children at the facility and focus on their tasks at hand.
Families in the community have been using the childcare services offered by the Burbank club, located at 2244 N. Buena Vista St., throughout March in a limited capacity due to the ever-changing landscape caused by the pandemic, said Shanna Warren, chief executive of the local Boys & Girls Club chapter on Thursday.
The facility was closed last week to allow staff to develop a plan and procedures about how to offer academic and daycare services while adhering to the most up-to-date safety guidelines to make sure children and staff members remain healthy.
“It’s a very complicated process to operate the way you have to operate for childcare right now,” Warren said.
Spacing and sanitation are two main areas on which the club is focusing. The club is limiting the number of children it will care for at the Buena Vista facility to 50 each day.
Each child’s temperature is taken, and staff members verify with parents that their children are in good health before they can enter the building.
Warren said the children are separated into groups of 10, with one adult looking after them. Each group and each child are then spaced away from one another to maintain a 6-foot buffer.
When the groups rotate to do a different activity or have a meal break, each child is told to wash their hands, and the staff disinfects all the areas where the children have been.
“It’s just a lot of cleaning and sanitizing,” Warren said.
Should there be a need to look after more than 50 children in a day, Warren said the club has an agreement with Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church near downtown Burbank to use its facilities.
“Many of our employees are on furlough, and we hope we can bring them back. The kids miss the staff, and the staff miss the kids.”
Warren said the coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the number of children and employees the organization can handle overall.
The local club went from caring for more than 3,000 children at multiple facilities with 150 staff members to having between 11 and 40 children on any given day with just a handful of employees at its main facility.
“It’s been heartbreaking for our employees and our kids,” Warren said. “Many of our employees are on furlough, and we hope we can bring them back. The kids miss the staff, and the staff miss the kids.”
Although the Burbank Unified School District has closed all schools for the time being, Warren said the Boys & Girls Club is maintaining its efforts to help children and teens with their academic studies.
Whether it’s help with a homework packet or assisting high school seniors with college applications, Warren said she and her staff have made it one of their top priorities to keep children and teens academically active.
“We don’t want them to feel like we just dropped the bucket, so we’re trying to maintain that engagement and continue with that process,” she said.
For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley’s childcare services during the pandemic, contact Marisa Robinson at email@example.com.