School programs

Columbia After School Programs Feel Pandemic Pinch in Enrollment and Staff | Education K-12

As the pandemic hangover continues, after-school programs are feeling the effects of staff shortages and low enrollment across Colombia.

Adventure Club, an after-school program based in elementary school cafeterias, is experiencing significant staff shortages, according to Greta Hake, the club’s programming and program coordinator.

“Compared to the number of employees last year, Adventure Club has grown from 24 full-time employees to 12 full-time employees,” Hake said in an email earlier this month.

Student enrollments are also only about 60% of what they were before the pandemic. Hake said 1,079 students were enrolled in March 2019, “and as of November 16, the student count was 656.”

Before the pandemic, Adventure Club was based in all 21 elementary schools in Columbia’s public schools. Today, due to low enrollment and interest rates, only 13 schools have adventure club programs, she said.

Centro Latino, an after-school program that caters primarily to immigrant and Latino students, is also seeing a sharp drop in enrollment. The center had an average of 25 students attending after-school programs before the pandemic; now five students are enrolled.

“When the pandemic started in March 2020, we stopped all programs to keep everyone safe,” Centro Latino executive director Eduardo Crespi said. “We just relaunched our tutoring program a few weeks ago and hope enrollment will increase as the number of COVID-19 continues to decline. “

Centro Latino strives to provide one-on-one tutoring for students and any other academic assistance the children require. Volunteers pick up students from their schools and bring them to Centro Latino, so parents don’t have to worry about transportation. Students also have the option of being dropped off at home if their parents cannot pick them up on time.

The center switched to online tutoring during the height of the pandemic, but returned to in-person programming. Staff members hope to see an increase in registrations soon.

“Our main goal is to serve disadvantaged populations in Colombia,” said Anna Jones, Centro Latino program coordinator. “We want to have a safe space where children feel accepted and welcome, no matter who they are. “

Parents often rely on transportation provided by schools and after-school programs so as not to duty worry about leaving work to drive their children back and forth.

Felisha Grimm, a parent in the district, used to enroll her children in the Adventure Club so that they had afternoon supervision while she finished her work day. Because the club is not operating in her children’s schools this year, she picks them up and takes them to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbia instead.

“My daughter particularly misses going to the Adventure Club,” said Grimm. “The Boys and Girls Club is great, but there is no bus to take the kids from school to the club, so having to drive them was another change.”

According to its website, Boys and Girls Clubs offer five core programs for ages 6 to 18 that focus on character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, sports, fitness and recreation, and the fine arts. . He has been affected by the shortage of school bus drivers because students traditionally take buses to go to clubs.

“Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbia is working on a number of solutions with the goal of helping children access the essential after-school programs they depend on over the years,” said Erik Anderson, interim CEO of the club. in an October press release.

In a local Facebook thread related to the school bus issues, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbia said they are creating a private page so parents can organize ridesharing. Last month, the club resumed the routes of 15-passenger vans to pick up college students in Oakland and Lange, Anderson said in an email.

More recent information on the club’s transport situation was not immediately available on Tuesday.