After-School Programs Could Continue Through Partial School Closures

The Youth Emergency Services (Y.E.S.) House Foundation in Gillette.

The Youth Emergency Services (Y.E.S) House Foundation in Gillette provides after school activities including fine arts, academic support and enrichment and wellness.

 

The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) plans to apply for a waiver that would allow after-school programs to provide services for children in the event that Wyoming schools are partially closed due to COVID-19. The department is accepting public comment on the issue from Sept. 23 – Oct. 7.

In order to reopen schools after their abrupt closure last spring, Campbell County School District (CCSD) adopted State Superintendent Jillian Balow’s Smart Start Reopening Plan. The plan describes three environments, or “tiers,” under which schools can function: tier one allows schools to operate at full capacity five days of the week. Tier two allows 50% of students to rotationally attend school for two to three days of the week while completing online assignments for the remaining days. Tier three would require all students to complete classes online five days of the week.

The plan outlines guidelines for most aspects of education. However, according to a WDE press release, the department left policies regarding after-school programs untouched as they followed federal restrictions put in place by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Now, WDE could apply for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) waiver, which would allow after-school programs in the state to provide services during a partial, or tier two, school closure.

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Currently, ESSA permits programs like Boys and Girls Club of Campbell County and the Y.E.S House Foundation, which are partially funded by 21CCLC, to provide services only during non-school hours of the day or at times when school is not in session.

With the waiver, WDE could permit these after school programs to provide supplemental activities while school is in session, but when students are not receiving in-person instruction.

In a recent press release, WDE claimed that some students could benefit from utilizing the “dedicated personnel and enhanced technological resources” that are offered in these facilities when they cannot attend school every day.

Residents can voice their opinions on the proposed waiver for after school programs by completing the WDE form online.