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Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line closed during distanced learning

 

Last updated 10/21/2020 at 1:09pm

The Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees voted last Tuesday to go remote till Wednesday, Oct 28, and the director of Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line said the club will be working and complementing what the school district does.

Director Tim Brurud said the club, which works to complement the district, will be closed since the school is doing remote learing.

"We will follow suit," Brurud said. "I hope we can get back to in-person programming on the 28th, but that really depends on how the community responds to the current surge in COVID cases in Havre."

Things had settled into a rhythm, he said, and they were doing pretty well.  

"The kids and staff had adapted to the day-long version of Club and we were working well with the school district to make sure the kids had everything they needed to continue with their education while they were at the club," Brurud said. "It's a very different format to have kids nine hours a day instead of four, we had to double our staff and change most of our structure, but we have found some positives."

He said that the staff has smaller groups of children, with about 10-15 children with two staff, so it's much easier to get to know the children and develop relationships.

  It's also much easier to implement club programming like SMART moves, which is a prevention education class, Money Matters about financial literacy and others, he added.

The club has adopted the same safety policies as Havre Public Schools so that the youth would have consistency during their week. 

"The kids are usually very good about the safety procedures," Brurud said.  "Once they know why we are wearing masks, washing hands and keeping distance when possible, they have no problem doing those things. The kids really want to keep each other and their families safe."

Staffing has been the most challenging part of the process, he said.

He added that it took them a few weeks into the school year before they had a full staff, and even then positive cases and contact tracing would often disrupt the schedule. 

  For now, he said, they are on track to have all of the staff and students allowed to return after the two week closure.

The other challenge has been moving from after-school to a full-day program, he said.

"In March, we closed down when the state went into quarantine and did virtual programming for the rest of the school year," Brurud said. "In the summer, we opened up in-person for small groups of kids much like we are now."

He said the club had seven groups of 10-15 children grouped by age.  

They were open from noon to 5 p.m., and also served lunch and dinner for the children as well as the community, he said, adding that now they  have seven groups of 10-15 kids with two staff members and the children are there from about 7:45 a.m to 5 p.m.

The Club is continuing to offer meals, breakfast from the school and a hot lunch and snack to the Club children as well as the community.   

He said the children are handling this better than he is.

"They definitely know what is going on, and there will always be some anxiety about when we will get back to normal, but for the most part the kids are just being kids," Brurud said. "I am always amazed at how adaptable children can be, when things change, most kids are able to quickly roll with it and just move on.  For most of the kids, their most pressing daily problem seems to be, 'What's for lunch, and will there be chocolate milk?'"

If a child starts to show symptoms the Club has a chart of symptoms from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they use to determine if a child needs to go home for the day, he said.

He said staff members health check the children each morning, and if there is an issue they come to the front desk where they determine the proper course of action. 

Before COVID-19, he said, they were going along at just about their maximum capacity of 220 children a day.  

Club members came in and had lunch, chose which center they wanted to go to and spent the day with their friends, he added.

"The halls were always full of kids going to and fro and it was nice to have them stop by my office and say hi," Brurud said. "I miss those days."

 

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