YMCA helps families amid switches between virtual, in-person learning

As COVID-19 cases soar in Wisconsin, more schools are shifting to distance learning -- the change often leaving families in a bind mid-semester. 

"It just hit us all at once," said Alice.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rock routines. 

"It's been a roller coaster for families," said Chris Przedpelski, senior director of extended learning, YMCA.

The YMCA has expanded its Extended Learning Academy to assist families. 

"We have opened up to the community at five different locations," said Przedpelski.

Staff converted the second-floor workout rooms into classrooms.

"We are having up to, depending on the center, 80 children socially-distant, separate classrooms, doing their virtual learning while our staff are able to proctor and help tutor the student, and the parent can go to work and provide for their families," said Przedpelski.

Hibbler has two children attending.

"My children have really been able to focus and get all their work in," she said.

She added that the YMCA is following safety guidelines and providing a sense of normalcy for the kids. 

"They are able to be around other children their age and still have that social piece," said Hibbler.

Meanwhile, as economic issues may now be compounded as a result of the learning shift, financial help is also available. 

"I have been able to receive some assistance through child care," said Hibbler.  

"We can offer the third-party subsidy and child care support," said Przedpelski. "We are the YMCA. We do not turn anyone away based on financial struggle.  We know that in the economy, there is a struggle going on. We provide scholarships for families."

"Communicate, and don’t be afraid to reach out to help," said Hibbler.

For families looking for help with virtual learning part-time or full time, the Extended Learning Academy is available from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.