After-school programs are urged to follow the guidance of their local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the coronavirus epidemic, the Afterschool Alliance said in a statement. Share CDC information and check the department of health in your state, the organization said.
The Afterschool Alliance is monitoring a rapidly changing situation, said Executive Director Jodi Grant. While local and state officials are making decisions about schools, Grant is concerned that after-school programs and the children they serve could be overlooked.
“After-school programs are impacted and need to be thought of,” Grant said. They serve a relatively vulnerable population, she said. “If after-school shuts down, kids are not getting fed.”
It’s also not clear whether mayors will open parks and recreation sites to kids, she said.
The staff in after-school programs are also highly impacted. “They depend on their paychecks,” Grant said.
Public schools have closed temporarily in some states, including Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and New Mexico, with associated after-school programs also closing.
At least one case of coronavirus has been reported in an after-school program.
Kumon in Sun Prairie, Wis., confirmed a case among its staff, according to local news reports. The organization has notified the local board of health and is following the CDC guidelines, it said in a statement. Kumon is a national network that provides math and reading tutoring after school.
In the event of possible infection, after-school programs should make sure they know how to communicate with local health officials, the agency that licenses or regulates the program and the school district, the Afterschool Alliance statement said.
Programs are urged to follow the CDC’s recommended practices around hand washing, social distancing and limiting contact. Anyone with symptoms of illness should stay home.
The CDC guidance addresses several different situations, ranging from communities that have no known cases of coronavirus to communities that have had transmission.
In response to the epidemic, the National Afterschool Association has shifted its annual conference next Monday to Wednesday to an online format, said Heidi Ham, vice president of programs and strategy. Some events will be presented live online, including keynote speaker Stacey Abrams on Wednesday, according to an NAA announcement. Other workshops and sessions will be offered online April 19-May 2.
The Afterschool Alliance advocacy event in Washington, D.C., has also become a virtual event, the organization said in a statement.
Another large after-school conference, the BOOST (Best Out-of-School Time) conference, which was to take place April 28-May 1, will be moved to a date this fall, organizers said in an email today.
This story has been updated.