Agoura, CA – As soon as COVID-19 made its way onto the scene, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater of Greater Conejo Valley (BGCGCV) was proactive in their response starting in the spring and continuing throughout the summer.
When the pandemic hit, the BGCGCV closed for two weeks to assess the COVID situation and then reopened under the guidance of health professionals and with the implementation of safety standards.
During the initial school closures, the BGCGCV opened 4 of 9 clubs, approved by the school district. In turn, the BGCGCV served 146 children of essential workers during the COVID school shutdowns. In addition, staff was only furloughed for two weeks, and were offered their existing hours at the club sites. The BGCGCV also created projects for any long-term impact if a specific club site had to close down.
Over the summer period, the BGCGCV is offering summer camp at five club sites in a safe environment with cohorts of 12 or less.
“In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) and Las Virgenes Unified School District (LVUSD) where we operate our clubs instituted school closures for the 2019-2020 school year and summer programming,” stated Dr. Crystal Nāone, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley. “This left many families in a difficult situation with enormous negative impacts including economic, social and educational effects,” she continued. “With a dedicated staff and strong leadership, we were able to continue to do the work our mission compels us to do, despite the challenges,” she added.
Now families are preparing for a different back-to-school experience this year, and the BGCGCV is also preparing to do whatever it takes to ensure that youth have the right tools and resources for a successful experience.
Currently in process, the BGCGCV is devising its action plan with the goal of keeping all of its clubs open on a full-day schedule to meet the needs of families even if schools go into full remote mode. In addition, the BGCGCV is regularly communicating with the CVUSD and LVUSD to tailor the hours of operation to best serve students and families. Programs offered by the Boys & Girls Clubs will remain onsite which has proved to be successful over the past months. The BGCGCV is also exploring possible opportunities to be located on campuses they are currently not on to further assist families.
A major concern during this time involves the equity gap between low income families and families who are supporting their child’s online learning with tutors and learning pods. Education officials are recognizing that disparate circumstances could have a major impact on educational inequities. UCLA education professor, Tyrone Howard was recently quoted in a LA Times article discussing this issue. “Schools are going to have to recognize that the learning gaps are going to get bigger…because the kids who are getting connected and who are logging on are going to be much more prepared,” stated Howard.
The BGCGCV recognizes this gap and addresses the situation. “Our clubs are focusing on the social determinant of health (education) and the need to close the equity gap by providing accessible and affordable care and service during these crucial times,” stated Dr. Crystal Nāone. “Being able to provide on-site tutors and Wi-Fi access, we are addressing this specific need in real time,” she continued.
“We are a nimble organization and we are ready to make sure that the most vulnerable in our community are not negatively impacted by the continuing school and work disruptions,” stated Dr. Nāone. “Our goal is to ensure that our members have no academic loss but stable gains during this crisis,” she added.
“The opening of our club means that my husband and I can both continue working, something we need to do since we both serve in essential roles to our business,” stated Michelle McMahon, parent. “I am so grateful for the Boys & Girls Clubs commitment to continue to provide a safe place for our kids right now,” she added.
“As a single mom, working as a police officer, there are not enough words to express how grateful I am to the Boys & Girls Clubs so I can continue to work,” stated Regina Smith, parent. “This place has truly been a life saver for me,” she added.
In addition to academic support and tutoring, the BGCGCV staff have received social emotional learning, training, and support to help provide youth with tools to cope with the negative impacts of the pandemic. The BGCGCV also continues to offer youth with healthy lunches and snacks throughout the day.
The BGCGCV strictly follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California Department of Health’s guidelines to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all participants.
For more information on the BGCGCV, health regulations and procedures, visit the website at www.bgcconejo.org.
About the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley (BGCGCV) are open before and after school, during lunch, on weekends, for summer camp, and all-day during school vacations. Tours of the Clubs are available upon request. The Boys & Girls Clubs also offer a variety of employment positions with excellent benefits and ongoing professional development. For more information about employment opportunities, supervised youth programs, to donate, volunteer, or register online, log onto www.bgcconejo.org or call 818-706-0905.