School’s Out COVID-19 Protocols Updates
|School’s Out update 8-26-2020
|School’s Out update 8-21-2020
Welcome to what will surely be a school year like no other. At the YMCA of the Pines, we’ve spent the last few months keeping kids busy, happy, and safe at emergency child care for essential employees and Lake Stockwell Day Camp. It is our intention to provide the same safe, fun, and supportive environment for your child through the School’s Out program that we have in years prior.
While this year our programs will look a little different, we’ll still be providing a wide range of activities including art projects, active play, STEM activities, and so much more. Our morning program will run as it traditionally has, and we’ll staff our afternoon program beginning at the early dismissal time, so students will come directly from the classrooms to have lunch with us before beginning afternoon activities. Children will be able to attend the program on any day that they attend school in person. For full details of our program and policies, you can find our handbook here.
One of the biggest changes to our program for the 2020 – 2021 school year is our schedule options. We have worked closely with our partner school districts, and with the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) on reviewing child care guidance to develop our policies and protocols. For example, students will be in groups of 10 or fewer (we will group students based on age), and those groups will remain consistent throughout the school year.
For example, if you plan on using PM care, a spot will be reserved for your child in the PM program every day that your child’s cohort is in school. If your child is scheduled to be in school Monday and Wednesday of a particular week but you only need childcare for Monday, we cannot put another child in his spot on Wednesday. We cannot allow drop-ins or one-day/week schedules based on DCF guidelines. Thus, all students must be “full schedule” participants such that they have a spot in the program whenever their cohort is in school. Of course, you can still choose AM, PM, or AM & PM care as options.
This scheduling plan will allow us to keep students together in the same groups each day, limiting contact between children to a group of 10 or fewer students. Of course, you may always choose to NOT have your child attend on a particular day, but no refund will be given for the missed day. When registering, please be careful to choose the days (or cohort) that correspond with your child’s school attendance.
Please note, enrollment is limited on a daily basis at each school, and spots will be allocated to students on a first-come, first-served basis. We expect there to be high demand.
Although we are a community-based non-profit organization with reasonable fees and a commitment to reinvesting in our staff and community, we cannot operate under the current model without raising fees to offset the additional expense, such as COVID-19 sanitary protocols, increased staffing requirements, and the length of the program, to name a few. In the fall of 2019 we announced reduced pricing for our School’s Out families and noted that we would keep the pricing consistent for the 2020 – 2021 school year. Of course, the world has changed substantially since the fall of 2019, such that we must modify our pricing as the program has changed substantially as well.
Accordingly, we have set up tiered pricing to allow each family to choose the best pricing option for their situation. Tier A pricing is the true cost to run the program, and Tier B pricing is a discount that YMCA of the Pines is offering School’s Out families to help support your family during these difficult times. We ask that folks who are able to pay Tier A pricing do so, but the program is the same regardless of which tier you select. Further, your selection is confidential and will not be known by the staff delivering the program. No application or documentation is required for you to accept Tier B.
Registration will open on our website for all School’s Out families on Friday August 21, 2020. To be able to start school on the first day of the year, please have your completed registration submitted online by Tuesday, September 1, 2020. For those who have registered for other programs at the YMCA of the Pines, such as Lake Stockwell Day Camp, the process will be similar. Just log into your family’s account by clicking the Register button on our website. For those new to our online registration portal, you will need to take the extra step of registering your family first. Please feel free to contact our Welcome Center at 609.654.8225 during normal business hours with any questions, or for help registering.
Paper registration is available for those who wish to pay by check or cash. Forms can be found on our website here. Forms may also be picked up at our Welcome Center at 1303 Stokes Road in Medford, M-F, between 9am and 5pm.
All of our materials for the 2020-2021 school year have now been updated on the ycamp.org site. Please remember that a new registration must be completed each year.
Note, if you were in the School’s Out program last year (specifically Medford, Medford Lakes, or Shamong), but do NOT send your child(ren) to summer camp with us, an account was likely created by our office staff for your student during the last school year. Therefore, if you use the same email address that you registered with last school year, you will receive a password reset request from Camp Brain when logging in for the first time to register. Please complete the reset and continue to utilize the same email address so there is only once account in the system for your family.
If your child attended our program in Tabernacle last year, or has attended our summer camps, please log in using the same email address and account/password you used previously.
Protocols for COVID-19 and School’s Out have been added to our website as well. Protocols include:
1. 1. Check-in and Check-out Procedures;
2. 2. Cleaning & Health Protocols; and
3. 3. Symptomatic Individual Protocols
Some of you may be familiar with our protocols from summer camp (Camp Matocky or Lake Stockwell Day Camp). Please note, our School’s Out protocols are different.
Outdoor camp and indoor child care programs have different protocols, as do schools, such that our School’s Out protocols have been developed in conjunction with our partner districts, DCF, and the Department of Education.
Please familiarize yourself with these protocols, as check-in and check-out will look different than what you’re used to in past years. Further, our financial policies related to sick days and absences are also different.
For example, a student who misses a day of school due to illness may return to the program immediately if a doctor’s note is provided indicating a non-COVID diagnosis. Further, pro-rated refunds will not be provided for days missed due to illness from School’s Out due to the staffing protocols mandated by DCF (see “Scheduling” for more info). However, in the event there is a school shutdown following the start of the school year, a pro-rated credit or refund will be provided. Simply put, we committed to supporting School’s Out families in the spring of 2020 and provided a refund for days not used following Governor Murphy’s school shutdown (many providers did not do this), and we will again commit to supporting School’s Out families this fall in such a manner.
Out of School Days
Students are not permitted to attend the School’s Out program in schools on days that they are not scheduled to be in school. At YMCA of the Pines, we were permitted by DCF to operate an emergency child care program in the spring of 2020 at our camp facility, but the State of New Jersey is not allowing similar program operations for the fall.
We operate School’s Out at Camp days at our facility when schools are closed through our Youth Camp License with the Department of Health – but this department does not have jurisdiction over child care when schools are operating.
In other words, we do not have an update on whether we will be able to offer child care at our camp facility for days your student is not in school. We have applied for a child care license through DCF and we are also working with the Township of Medford for this all to come together. However, the licensing process through DCF is substantial and time-consuming, and absent intervention by the Governor or the DCF department head, outdoor camps across New Jersey (including YMCA of the Pines) will be prohibited from providing child care without a DCF license.
We promise to keep School’s Out families in the loop as our efforts progress, and we remain hopeful that we will be able to offer a program in the fall at our camp facility to assist with virtual learning on days students are not in school. Stay tuned for further updates as we progress through towards the opening of school.
A Final Note
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. The week before school starts you will receive site specific information regarding drop-off and pick-up procedures, the staff, health and safety reminders, and more.
I know I speak for all of our staff when I say we can’t wait to greet you and your children when school begins next month. It’s going to be a great adventure.