MARTIN COUNTY—The kids can still log in, and soon, they’ll be able to walk in as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County (BGCMC) begins officially reopening select locations June 1.
More than three months since closing the doors of its four locations, launching a massive meals operations, and transitioning the core of its services online, Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County is rolling out “Wave 1” of a phased resumption of gatherings for fun, mentorship, good citizenship, healthy lifestyles, and academic enhancement with certified teachers.
“We’ve heard it from every direction—parents, guardians, teachers, even some of our kids—that one of the pandemic’s largest casualties has been how kids learn,” says Keith “Fletch” Fletcher, president and CEO of BGCMC. “The traditional concerns about the summer slide combined with the COVID slide could jeopardize the educational growth of any student. But for kids from at-risk environments who are already academically vulnerable, that one-two combo could prove absolutely devastating.”
Serving no more than a third-percent capacity in each location, both the Hobe Sound and Port Salerno locations are already full. Wave 1 is open only to K-5 students, restricting attendees to regularly attending club members who are struggling academically.
Outlining the litany of rigorous sanitization, safety and social-distancing protocols it will expect of members and staff, BGCMC—which transitioned key services online via Club Connect and served more than 60,000 free meals to the community in its ongoing food-relief effort—hopes to reopen additional clubs and K-12 students in “Wave 2.” That may not come until at least late June or early July. Meanwhile, BGCMC is also adjusting its meals program to exclusively Indiantown.
Starting June 1, BGCMC will launch its Summer Meal Program. Members of Hobe Sound and Port Salerno clubs will receive breakfast, lunch and snack. That Friday, the backpack program will begin, with members receiving each Friday a backpack full of healthy pantry food items to bring home and share with family over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Indiantown club will serve breakfast, lunch and snack to any children 18 and under—whether they’re club members or not—from 10:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.
As club professionals move back into the club settings to work with the kids face-to-face, Club Connect Live will come to a close June 1. Key online programming, however, such as SPARK, Healthy Lifestyles, and Character and Citizenship, will remain accessible.
With demand outweighing available space, members are expected to show up. Anyone who misses more than three days in a two-week period—unless they fall ill—will see their spot revoked. Members who contract COVID-19 or suffer potential symptoms can arrange to return to their spot upon recovery.
Precautions for staff
Frequent handwashing requirements will include upon entry, after using the restroom, before and after handling food, following outdoor play and before and after any health assessment.
Masks, gloves and maintaining 6-foot distances are required, as are weekly, three-question health surveys. No staff may leave for lunch to dine in at a restaurant, though outside dining and drive-through service are acceptable. Staff will undergo daily temperature checks. Anyone with a temperature higher than 100.2 will be sent home and unable to return until fever-free—without medication—for 48 hours. Any staff with COVID-19 symptoms will be required to get a test for verification and may need to comply with a 14-day quarantine.
Precautions for members
Members must comply with the same requirements as staff, although will provide masks for members. Parents are enlisted in helping regularly check for symptoms. Any child who becomes positive for COVID-19 could not return for 14 days—conditions that would extend to any sibling. Parents or guardians from the household in question would not be permitted to enter the club. They’ll be notified immediately should the child fall ill at a club.
Club members will remain in groups of nine and assigned to the same club professionals. Transitioning from the gym to outdoors will account for safe social distancing. Between each transition, the area and equipment will be sanitized. Water fountains are closed. Only one member at a time can go to the restroom. Field trips remain cancelled.
Children and families will receive regular notifications on the expectations, policies and programs. Violation of the rules could result suspension from the club until Wave 2. Parents must remain available to respond to any call they receive regarding the child’s behavior, at risk of forfeiture of the spot.
Cleaning procedures will commence while members are present and after they depart. Both germicidal solutions and fogging machines will be employed on the computers The gym and related equipment as well as the game rooms, classrooms, cafeteria, art rooms, rest rooms, lobbies—and all related high-touch areas—will undergo thorough sanitation.
“The Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County is about investing time into the kids so they can grow, learn and come to understand just how special they are,” says Fletcher. “The clubs themselves serve as safe havens in this process. We’re committed to doing everything need to do to ensure they’re safe from the virus, because we’ve really missed the kids and can’t wait to see them again.”