“It’s about being there for our community during a time when they need us more than ever.” – Josh Kraft, Nicholas President and CEO
This fall, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston will be opening the doors of its Clubs earlier than usual each day to support families and students whose schools are following a remote learning model. In addition, Clubs will also continue to provide after-school programs and enrichment opportunities, both in person and virtually, for members throughout the communities of Boston and Chelsea.
“It’s about being there for our community during a time when they need us more than ever,” explained Nicholas President and CEO Josh Kraft. “The families we serve are facing tremendous challenges juggling full–time employment and the around-the-clock attention that children need to be successful with remote learning. This has created an opportunity for our entire organization to step up and provide some relief while continuing to forward our mission to help young people, especially those who need us most, realize their full potential.”
BGCB established a blueprint for success while running five weeks of fun, educational, and safe in-person programs at eight Clubs over the summer and will continue to refine the rigorous and thorough safety procedures that are in place at each Club location.
The New Typical Day
The new typical day at Clubs will include three waves of programs: Daytime Learning Support, After-School Programs, and Evening Programs. We will be supporting members who will be learning from hundreds of different schools throughout the Greater Boston area. Some members will be attending their Club every day, while others will be attending on “off days” when they are not attending school in person. This shift means members will be attending Clubs at different cadences throughout the fall as Boston-area schools stagger their physical reopening.
“While the unique circumstances of this global health crisis are creating no shortage of changes to the Club experience, our staff remains determined to create the same exciting and inclusive spirit in Clubs that has been inspiring and nurturing young people for almost 130 years,” added Kraft.
While each Club will operate with its own specific set of hours and protocols, the below timeline provides a general overview of what will be happening in our buildings this fall:
7:30 a.m.: Club doors open for Daytime Learning Support
Each morning, Clubs will kick off Daytime Learning Support for members who will not be attending school in person. The primary goal of Daytime Learning Support is to set our members up for success in school by supporting them as they navigate the virtual classroom.
Members will bring their school-issued laptop computers with them to their Club each day, and BGCB will be providing a set of headphones with a built-in microphone to each member in order to ensure successful participation in virtual classwork. As members check in, they will be divided into cohorts with other members based on key criteria such as school and age. Cohorts meet at the same designated room in their Club each day, and contain no more than 13 members in order to ensure physical distancing. Each cohort will also include one or two staff members at all times who will be available for assistance as needed.
2:00 p.m.: After-School Programs begin
As members wrap up their school days, Clubs will transition into After-School Programs, featuring activities across BGCB’s key outcome areas of Academic & Life Success, Healthy Development, and Character & Community. For this portion of the day, members will also be assigned a designated room containing no more than 13 members and two staff to maintain physical distancing.
Staff will be leading activities in rooms, and members will also be rotating through activities at the pool and gymnasium. Within each room, members will have access to their own personal equipment to use for activities. No equipment will be shared at any point throughout the day, with the exception of large pieces of equipment that can easily be cleaned after each use (pool sticks, ping pong paddles, video game controllers, etc.).
6:00 p.m.: Evening Programs begin for teens
In the last stage of the day, Clubs will remain open for teen-focused programs. These programs will be centered around BGCB’s multi-faceted strategy, Life After the Club, designed to ensure members ages 13-18 have goals for their post-Club lives, plans for how to achieve them, and the essential skills and resources needed to be successful adults.
Members will continue to learn and practice an array of subjects, including financial literacy, self-care, planning for college, applying for financial aid, learning to drive, healthy relationships, voting, and more.
Some other important notes about our reopening this fall include:
We Are Investing Heavily in Our Internet Connectivity
BGCB has invested heavily in internet connectivity and firewalls in an effort to ensure successful online learning for members throughout the day.
“While computers have always been a very popular part of our programming, we’ve never had so many members utilizing our networks at the same time,” explained Kraft. “We are investing tens of thousands of dollars at our sites to create more access points and boost our Wi-Fi.”
We Are Ramping Up Healthy Development with Three Meals per Day
Providing healthy and delicious meals and snacks has always been a core part of BGCB’s Healthy Development program. In 2019, BGCB served more than 310,000 healthy meals in snacks. While schools will be unable to provide breakfast and lunch to students, we will be ramping up our Clubs’ kitchens and serving our members breakfasts, lunches, and dinners throughout the course of a typical day.
We Are Adding More Nursing Hours
This fall, we are adding 15 hours of nursing to Club operations each week, and will have a nurse on call during all operating hours.
Clubs will be conducting and maintaining records of daily health screenings for both members and staff. In addition, members and staff will be monitored throughout the day for symptoms.
Our Virtual Programs Will Continue
Over the course of our Clubs’ physical closures this past spring, BGCB transitioned to a virtual programming model that featured a “Club At Home” video blog series and staff-led Zoom sessions that provided real-time interactive activities alongside fellow members.
With more than 35,000 total video views amassed and 2,600 live program sessions completed, this effort was considered a tremendous success. We are excited to continue maintaining our virtual programs throughout the fall for members and families who want to continue to engage with us from home.