YMCA distance learning program on halt, as state clarifies guidelines

Coronavirus

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — Citing state regulations, the Baton Rouge area’s YMCA chapter is halting a program that would have given students somewhere to go for virtual classes during the upcoming school year.

Capital Area YMCA CEO Christian Engle confirmed the delay Monday, after officials with the Louisiana Department of Education clarified the state education board’s code: places not licensed as child day care centers cannot provide student services when school is in session — even if school facilities aren’t open for all students at once.

Engle, who said state leaders only recently notified the nonprofit of the rule, voiced willingness to acquire a license. But it’s unlikely they would get one before the East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s academic year starts Aug. 10.

The program’s delay leaves parents caught between going to work and leaving their children home alone.

“I can’t imagine we’ve made the progress we’ve made, and all of a sudden now we’re going to put parents in the bind of not having care for their children,” Engle said.

The YMCA planned to offer students below ninth grade a place to complete their respective school’s online classes. The nonprofit would have also provided lunch. Students would have had to pre-register.

Engle estimated the program would have served as many as 300 students across the Baton Rouge chapter’s branches. He argues the demand remains to give the children an alternative to staying home.

“Everyone’s on board with trying to figure out what the solution’s going to be,” he said. “I don’t want to paint a picture that nobody wants our children to be cared for. I don’t believe that for a minute.”

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