The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
The Times 

The Club hits the pause button for the beginning of school

Virtual activities planned


August 20, 2020

Virtual activities planned

DAYTON—It has been “overwhelmingly” decided by The Club’s board of directors, not to open to coincide with the Aug. 25 start of school, but to delay opening for up to four weeks, depending on the local COVID-19 situation.

“I agree with their very thoughtful decision. It wasn’t an easy one to come to,” said Jim Pearson, Director of The Club, on Monday.

The board met on Aug. 11 and discussed all the complicating factors, as they considered whether to open or not. He said they expressed a strong concern for the health and safety of members and staff.

“We aren’t particularly equipped to deal with this, and it’s been a tremendous challenge to adapt to the situation,” he said.

Some factors to be considered include the number of guidelines and restrictions around social distancing requirements. The county Public Health Department recommended separating youth by grade level, to expedite their contract tracing process, but that would be difficult to do at The Club.

Staggered release times are planned for students in the school district, which would require additional staffing and resources to handle the extended afterschool program.

Pearson said, meeting all the guidelines and restrictions would place the Club into more of a child care provider role than the youth recreation program it is.

He said to operate as a child care provider, The Club would need expensive infrastructure, a license to operate, and certificated staff. There are also legal barriers to overcome.

“We’re really in kind of an almost impossible situation, both from a resource standpoint and a moral standpoint, to try to move forward in some meaningful way,” he said.

The staff has been working hard to establish rapport with youth since The Club opened its doors in September 2018, and Pearson doesn’t want those efforts jeopardized. So, he is working with his staff to create a virtual after school program, to be timed with the start of school on Aug. 25.

Activities will be of the type that can be done by kids of all ages, that have easy to follow instructions, and include all supplies.

Pearson said if the COVID-19 situation looks good over the next few weeks, the board is willing to reconvene and reconsider the four-week pause.


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