DANVILLE — As with other organizations, the Boys & Girls Club of Danville has been closed as mandated by the state due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With schools ending for the school year, and the club normally shifting to its summer program, club officials are planning if they can open the club’s doors to youths for the summer.
Executive Director Rob Gifford said they’ve had discussions about what that could look like, how many youths they could have in groups and how staff would handle it.
If they are not able to open the club’s doors, then how could they maybe try to have some virtual programming for youths to access if they are forced to physically stay closed.
Looking at Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s phased reopening plan, “we’re looking at possibly the end of June when we could maybe open our doors to kids,” Gifford said.
There could be temperature checks as staff and the youth enter the club, in addition to the staff keeping the youths further apart.
“There’s so many different questions. It just makes it hard to figure out what is the best plan,” Gifford said.
They also normally take the youths on field trips. Maybe they still could do some smaller ones, he questions.
During the school year, the club can see about 160 to 175 youths daily after school.
Last summer, there were 145 youths signed up, with the club regularly seeing 100 to 120 youths a day.
“I don’t see that happening,” Gifford said.
He said if they are allowed to open, they wouldn’t have that many and they’d likely have about 10-person groups.
Looking at programming, they would have to divide the club into areas too, and not rotate the groups into the different areas during the day. A group would stay in the gym, for example, or a different area all day and then rotate to a different area like the art room, game room or teen lounge, the next day.
Gifford said the youths would have different games and programs, and the club would try to purchase more laptops for the youths and make sure all the areas and equipment are cleaned after use.
“Those are the kind of things we’re looking at,” he said. “How do we then pick and choose the kids to come in the summer?”
He said they would initially look at essential workers and offer those families interested first opportunity. After that, it’d be based on openings and also trying to have appropriately-sized age groups.
“It’s all fluid at this point,” Gifford said.
They’d also have the appropriate staffing level, but they could have all employees and only about half the kids when they first reopen.
With minimum wage going up July 1, they’ve had to factor in increased personnel costs.
Gifford said it’s hard when they want to complete their mission and serve children.
“We’re just trying to stay viable to open our doors when the moment happens,” he said.
The club isn’t receiving some grant money with youths not there. The club also relies on donors to stay financially sound.
If they can’t find enough donors, they may have to slightly increase club membership costs, Gilfford said.
The club will be ready to go when they can have youths again, Gifford said.
“This is a completely different situation for us,” he said.