A charity in the Halifax area is hoping to help families after the province decided to delay opening schools for in-person learning by one week.

Online learning is set to begin Monday in Nova Scotia and students could return to the classroom on Jan. 17. With many parents left scrambling for child care, the YMCA of Greater Halifax & Dartmouth is stepping in.

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The group announced it is offering an in-person program for students in the HRM that will allow school-aged children to do their online school in a supervised space.

The “Y School” program is set to run from Monday to Friday next week, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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“Hearing the unfortunate news that we would be delaying back-to-school, we knew that a lot of families would be left in a bit of a pinch,” said Lorri Turnbull, the chief development officer of YMCA Halifax/Dartmouth.

Turnbull echoed health officials’ previous sentiments that school is the safest place for children to be.

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She said the local YMCA has two large facilities and staff to accommodate students in a safe, socially-distanced environment to complete their online classes. Turnbull says the students will be supervised, supported throughout the day and fed at lunchtime.

The program will “also give families the opportunity to work, or do what they need to do.”

The YMCA has already been running day camps to help families with child care over the past week with health measures in place. These measures include 50 per cent capacity, masking and sanitation.

Turnbull said those programs filled up quickly this week, which showed the need for Y School.

“The children will be safe,” said Turnbull, noting the John W. Lindsay YMCA in Halifax is a 70,000-square-foot facility. “We will be able to keep the kids distanced.”

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Click to play video: 'Child poverty rates underpin Nova Scotia school decision'

Child poverty rates underpin Nova Scotia school decision

Child poverty rates underpin Nova Scotia school decision

The last time Nova Scotia moved schools to online learning, health measures also mandated that all recreation facilities and gyms be shut down, so the YMCA wasn’t able to run such a program.

Turnbull says though their hands were tied last year, they’re in a “very different situation” this time around.

“We’ve been operating with COVID practices for almost two years… This is an opportunity for us to help.”

The first families to get placements in Y School will include the 250 students the YMCA provides after-school care in seven schools across the HRM.

Turnbull said the program filled up within two hours but there may be a chance that some students back out.

The program is free of charge, and registration is available here.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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