SKY Family YMCA summer camps began Monday.

The lack of schooling during summer break often causes what educators call the "summer slide," or a regression in learning, and the lack of face-to-face instruction and school cancelations caused by COVID-19 are already causing what educators are calling the "COVID slide." In our area, educators and nonprofits are looking for ways to combat it.

The SKY Family YMCA, which has multiple locations between Venice and Bonita Springs, has responded to "COVID slide" by providing virtual learning programs, homework help and child care services to families in need, along with other helpful resources in several locations. In partnership with the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, SKY is offering child care services for health care workers and first responders during the pandemic, and both foundations provided funding for sanitation supplies and counselor training for how to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

"When the pandemic hit around spring break, we had to pivot as an organization," says SKY Family YMCA chief executive officer Gene Jones. "We knew child care was an important resource, especially for those working on the front lines." Each facility is now sanitized daily, employees are required to wear masks and gloves, and class sizes are kept to a minimum to ensure social distancing.

To limit "COVID slide," Jones says the YMCA is enhancing the educational component of its traditional camp curriculum, to not only prevent learning loss, but to assist parents struggling to teach their children at home. 

"In our existing program, we made sure to allocate two hours per day for educational enhancement," says Jones. "When we realized schools would be closed for awhile, we allowed students to bring their laptops to camp and dedicate time to virtual learning, with the help of camp counselors as tutors."

The SKY Family YMCA is offering virtual learning programs this summer to help limit "COVID slide."

Summer camp at SKY Family YMCA began Monday and will run until Friday, Aug. 7. If you don't feel comfortable sending your child off to camp just yet, the YMCA is also offering virtual activities for kids on its website. Members can also join virtual wellness and fitness classes with Your Y Coach at Home.

"Beyond youth services, we've hosted blood drives, provided daily meals for families and much more, because of the funding we've received," says Jones. "Thanks to the Barancik and Gulf Coast foundations, we've been able to support our community in great ways."

For more information about SKY Family YMCA programs, click here

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