By Kevin Gaiss | WCAX News
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 5:09 AM EDT|Updated: 4 hours ago
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - For working parents in Burlington who have children learning remotely, the Sara Holbrook Community Center has now been named the first COVID-19 child care hub in the area.
“What we are doing right now, really, is just a longer day of what we typically do," said Christine Lloyd-Newberry, the executive director at the community center. She says the Center on North Avenue has already assumed a larger role than in a typical year. “It really is within the vein of what we already do as an organization."
Right now, Sara Holbrook is able to cater to about 40 students a day for free for the first month under COVID-19 regulations and through state funding. They are also using state funding to support four other remote branches of their main campus.
They offer students a space to do their remote learning while offering meals through the Burlington School District. They also offer an internet connection as well as educational assistance for students.
“This doesn’t feel like an addition, this just feels right," said Lloyd-Newberry.
“It is the most fulfilling job you can ask for," said Jarrell Watts, the elementary program director at Sara Holbrook.
As they settle into their new space, Watts says they are quickly adapting to their new role, as well. “We are in the process of designing our program to mirror the virtual experience of what the schools are doing," he said.
Watts says once relationships with students are built, they will begin tailoring their programming to fit the curriculum the students will be following, as well as cultivating the classroom experience.
And for parents, they can be reassured, their students are hard at work.
“Coming into the program, having fun, but also knowing that they are also going to be getting some of the same aspects of program that they would in the classroom," said Watts. “We made this process a little bit easier for families knowing that they have a secure place for students that they can come and not only have fun but get the assistance that they need.” Watts says knowing that this is a time where people do need the extra hand, places like Sara Holbrook are adjusting to help.
“This is a great help for the community and for the parents and the students they reap the benefits of it, all in all," said Watts.
Sara Holbrook has also been able to bring in plenty of part-time staff to fulfill all the educational and social-emotional needs of the students coming in.
They are currently not at capacity yet.