WACO, Texas — Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced all Texas schools must remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, but some parents are concerned about how the closures will affect their ability to care for their children.
The announcement comes as Texas prepares to re-open businesses and get residents back to work. With more parents returning to their jobs, more kids will be left without a stay-at-home parent, meaning outreach programs like the Boys and Girls Club of Waco will play an important role in caring for Central Texas kids.
"We're being kind of like a lifeline for those essential workers who don't have a neighbor or another family member who can watch their kids," Executive Branch Director Taylor Watson said.
Several school districts expressed a desire to help those kids in need, but said they are not allowed to open their doors due to COVID-19 regulations. Waco ISD said they are connecting parents and students to outside programs.
The coronavirus has affected outreach programs as well. Watson said they typically support more than 100 kids a day during after-school programs, but social distancing regulations have limited them to less than 10.
Those kids are the children of essential workers. The Boys and Girls Club is offering childcare for $50 a week to families with multiple parents working "essential" jobs. That childcare includes a free meal through Waco ISD's curbside meal program.
"We're following all the guidelines- six feet apart, one kid to a table. We're taking temperatures in the morning and the afternoon, and make sure we're doing everything by the book," Watson said.
While they cannot provide childcare, school districts hope to fill the educational gap produced by remote learning by offering virtual office hours with local teachers.
"Your teachers are available," Waco ISD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Deena Cornblum said. "Reach out to them for help. They want you to reach out to them."
The Boys and Girls Club of Waco says they will continue to adapt to changes in regulations to best serve their community.
They say they can currently watch 20-30 more kids of essential workers.