Fisher Elementary School is the spot where Whatcom Family YMCA will provide daycare for kindergarten up to fifth-grade level, starting Monday. (Courtesy photo)

A big issue in school reopening — insurance — is handled by the Y

LYNDEN ­— The Lynden School District has partnered with the YMCA to offer childcare for kindergartners through fifth graders at Fisher Elementary School. 

The childcare program will start Sept. 14, with one full-time option and two part-time options for parents to choose from. The program allows for the equivalent of 30 full-time students. 

The new childcare program left some local parents upset or confused about how childcare is possible at the school when regular school operations are shut down due to the COVID risk.

“Yes, there have been lots of questions about how childcare is allowed in a school facility but schools cannot be open for in-person learning,” Jim Frey, Lynden School District superintendent, said in an email. “Childcare programs have remained open since the stay-home order was issued by Gov. Inslee in March and school facilities were closed to in-person learning.”

Frey explained that when distant learning was decided for the Lynden School District on Aug. 10, childcare became a priority for families needing it to balance work and school.   

“We had already been in discussion with the YMCA to provide before- and after-school care, so began talking about whether they could provide an all-day program as it was anticipated it would be helpful for families,” Frey said. 

The school’s insurance is one of the main hangups for the school district actually opening for in-person learning.

“Because childcare is staffed and operated by the YMCA, their insurance covers the program and our insurance does not come into play other than what is normally required when individuals or organizations utilize our facilities,” Frey said. “We checked with both the health department and our insurance company to make sure we were on solid ground.”

According to Frey, the YMCA childcare program will have one to two adults per each 10-12 students. The YMCA’s childcare program will allow for students to participate in their schoolwork. 

“Some LSD classified staff (paraeducators or other) will be available to provide some support around technology, so students can access the distance learning model while at childcare during the day,” Frey said. “LSD staff are not there to provide instruction in a classroom setting, as instruction is being facilitated by teachers in the distance learning model and most classified staff will be working to support all students in a variety of ways.”

The latest guidelines from the Whatcom County Health Department support a slow opening of schools, and Frey said the YMCA will work with the school district and adjust accordingly. 

Remote learning at all levels across the Lynden School District started on Sept. 8.

“As we start school on Tuesday, our goal is to provide as much support to our students as possible and make this a good experience for the children and families we serve,” Frey said. “Our teachers and staff have been working extremely hard to get ready and are looking forward to engaging with their students. We know there is a good deal of anxiety and concern about how this will work and how we will make sure all kids receive the education they deserve. We know not everything will be perfect and there will be some bumps along the way, but we are here to provide the best possible education we can to all students. We are taking a learning stance and value the feedback we are receiving from families and expect to learn and adjust as we go.”