It is strange to think that a year ago we were just getting the first suggestions that COVID-19 was a serious threat. When LTUSD shut the schools on March 13th, the Club admin team were naive hoping that we would be back in action for Spring Break. How little did we understand how this was going to negatively affect all our lives. Looking back over the past 12 months it is hard to recall everything that has happened, or all the different stages/policies/practices that we have been through. Many of those policies are still in place, social distancing, masking etc but with over 90% of our staff now vaccinated and all schools now reopened, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
So what have we learned over the past 12 months?
1. Kids need social interaction. The hardest part of the past year was the three months we were forced to close due to being on a school site. Not seeing our members was hard on the staff but we know it was hardest on the kids. Children need the stimulus and social and emotional learning that they get from each other. They need to play and use their imagination and they need to be around others who have the same interests and passions as them. When we reopened in June it was clear that while the kids were happy to be back at Club, they were happiest to be back with their friends. Although we ran some amazing programs last summer, we saw that for the majority, the best part of their day was simply playing with friends again.
2. Kids are adaptable. One of our biggest concerns when we reopened was how to keep everyone safe. To do so required children as young as 4 to wear a mask all day, to stay 6ft apart and refrain from hugging or touching staff and each other. In the end it turned out to be one of the easier COVID policies. When faced with wearing a mask and being at Club, or refusing to wear a mask and going home, to our kids it was a no brainer and they have been incredible at complying with all our new rules and regulations. We still have to give gentle reminders about ‘the mask droop’ but on the whole the kids have adapted extremely well and even the youngest understood the importance of keeping everyone safe.
3. Online learning sucks. We have yet to meet a member who enjoys online school. Our teachers have done their best and seven months in, the majority of the kids and staff are in a good groove, but the kids much prefer in-person learning; whether at school or as part of our enhancement programs. We’ve also discovered that kids are quick to learn every trick in the book when it comes to online school. Whether it is logging into their zoom but watching movies on another tab. Bypassing the firewall to download minecraft or putting their teacher on silent and staring into space!
4. Childcare has been the backbone of the economy and saved families. It is crazy to think that some of our members have had less than 20 days of in-person school in a whole year. While school has been in distanced learning, it has been childcare who have ensured that parents can still go to work and earn a living. And not just the Club. Our amazing colleagues at Lake Tahoe Preschool and Appleseeds Academy stepped up and added school aged programs to ensure that more kids had somewhere to go and more families could work. Childcare staff turned up every day despite the personal risks, and many are minimum wage workers without employer health insurance. Their selfless sacrifice has been incredible.
5. We are part of an amazing community. So many businesses, individuals, groups and organizations have stepped up to help the Club over the past 12 months. From MacDuffs and Harumi providing delicious meals for families, PTA groups and local Foundations diverting funding to the Club for scholarships and meals, monthly donors and individuals passing on their stimulus checks to the Club. The kindness, sacrifice and generosity has been simply incredible and it is the truth to say that we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you!
The future is looking optimistic. One of our Board Members, Dr Larry Green, has created a mathematical formula that predicts that COVID will be at significantly reduced numbers in the US by the end of the summer, and we hope for a full return to traditional operations in the fall. But we still have a way to go and we will continue to support our members, families and community in every way that we can.