Alexandria Rec Centers Provide Childcare Options for Essential Workers

Centers working with ACPS as part of Virtual PLUS+ learning program

Fifth grader Anh Nguyen studies at William Ramsay Rec Center. (Photo courtesy ACPS)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – For the fall semester, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) has teamed with a number of community partners to provide childcare options for parents. The arrangement is all part of the Virtual PLUS+ learning program.

There are currently 250 students enrolled in the full-day program at no cost to families. Many of these children have parents who are essential workers.

The program has been running at William Ramsay Recreation Center, Leonard Armstrong Recreation Center, Boys and Girls Club or YMCA at Samuel Tucker Elementary School since Sept. 14.

Last week, ACPS representatives visited Ramsey. They spoke with Anh Nguyen, a fifth grader, one of the first to greet them.

“I like coming here because after online school we get active and get some fresh air. We get everything we need here,” Nguyen said. “I was sad when school closed. I missed my friends, having other children to play with — and I actually missed the homework.”

During the school day at Ramsay, sixty students, grouped into grade groups of roughly ten, are spaced out across the airy facility. Each has their own spacious desk area, masks are worn, temperatures are checked at least twice daily, and hand sanitizer and hand-washing has become second nature to everyone.

Rec center employees, while not teachers, are there to assist students – helping set up Zoom, keeping them focused, and offering support.

In addition to the students attending a full-day program, another 250 students attend one of several after-school programs funded through ACPS grants and the City of Alexandria.

ACPS LINK Club after-school programs take place in collaboration with community partners, serving students where they live. After a day of virtual schooling at home, students are able to walk to their local community center to participate in a variety of enrichment activities, receive tutoring support, and safely socialize with their peers while social distancing.

“It’s working out really well…The families are very appreciative, they are thankful there is a place for their kids to come and be supervised, said Shawn Brown, Ramsay’s director. “Some were really struggling to get back to work and worried for their jobs.”

Shanna Samson, Assistant Director of the ACPS Office of Community Partnerships and Engagement worked very closely with the city to make the childcare program possible.

“We are pleased that we have been able to offer our most vulnerable families this opportunity which we hope will take away some of the pressure that we know some are facing during the pandemic,” she said.

For more information on childcare options, visit acps.k12.va.us/Page/3363.

RELATED: Alexandria Soccer Association Works With ACPS to Create Virtual PLUS+ Childcare Site