AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some relief is on the way for a group of overworked Austin ISD parents. The district is in the midst of creating temporary learning centers to help essential workers with child care.
The new Austin ISD learning centers are for elementary-aged children from kindergarten through fifth grade whose parents are essential workers. The list includes first responders, grocery store and pharmacy employees, transit service providers and healthcare professionals as well as AISD employees who continue to work.
District officials said the centers are an effort to ensure workers who maintain critical medical and local services have a safe and supportive environment for their children. It’s a collaborative effort among state, county and local entities through the Child Care Task Force.
At present, AISD officials said there is limited information and could not answer questions like: How many kids will this serve? How will they keep kids six feet apart? When will it start?
“Can they really effectively isolate the kids while they’re still learning in a learning environment,” asked Pam Moore, a nurse and AISD parent.
Moore said she is lucky. Her husband is currently at home while she works and is able to take care of their children.
The Texas Nurses Association’s Director of Practice Serena Bumpus said she knows childcare can be difficult, especially for those who have two working parents. She believes this will help those in need but knows parents will have questions.
“I think all of us are very concerned about just spreading the virus so (nurses) would definitely want to know how AISD plans to keep the kids socially distant and just what the structure of the day would be like,” she said.
Both Moore and Bumpus said they have worked out a plan for their children’s childcare and education during this time but said what AISD is working to provide sounds like a good idea.
“This has the potential to be one less stressor for our nurses because they’re already just stressed about what’s to come and what their work environment is going to look like in a couple of weeks,” Bumpus said.
The temporary learning centers will open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The first center will launch at Galindo Elementary School because of its proximity to St. David’s South Austin Hospital. The district said future sites may launch in central and east Austin.
Another option for those working on the frontline is Extend-A-Care Y-M-C-A. It offers child care for the children of healthcare workers and first responders and other essential workers at their three locations: in Austin, Oak Hill and Buda.
Child care is available for children three to 12-years-old. Children are required to bring a sack lunch.
During the day, they will enjoy arts, crafts, exercise, games, movies, snacks, and supervision from experienced staff.
Officials tell KXAN they work to keep children socially distant and only allow nine children to one staff member in a group. It cost $150 a week.