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YMCA branches in metro Atlanta are offering children a place to participate in virtual learning.

Gwinnett County parents who are looking for an option for their children to do virtual learning can try out their local YMCA.

The YMCA of Metro Atlanta recently announced it will open “Y Campus Connection” locations at 17 YMCAs in metro Atlanta, including two in Gwinnett County, on Monday. The concept is to offer children in kindergarten through sixth-grade a safe place to do virtual learning while their parents work, or if they otherwise would not have internet access.

“With many school districts not returning to in-person learning, we realize there is need for a fun, safe environment for many children of first responders, essential workers and others who are unable to stay home and monitor their children’s daily activities,” YMCA of Metro Atlanta president and CEO Lauren Koontz said.

“Our Y Campus Connection program is a continuation of the programs we implemented for those in need shortly after the pandemic started. We look forward to helping even more children develop positive academic and physical activity habits.”

The J.M. Tull-Gwinnett Family YMCA, located at 2985 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville, and Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA, located at 5600 West Jones Bridge Road in Norcross, are two of the locations that will offer the Y Campus Connection, according to YMCA officials. The Y Campus Connection will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 4 p.m., although the YMCAs will provide before and after care, beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m.

The cost to register for the program is $39 per day for YMCA family members and $44 per day for YMCA program members, although officials said financial assistance is available based on need. Anyone who has questions about the program is being directed to visit ymcaatlanta.org. Registration information and a full list of all YMCA of Metro Atlanta sites offering Y Campus Connection are available at that website as well.

“Y staff will assist students in logging on and connecting to their school programs using their own laptop or device and will support students who have questions to keep them on track as they connect with teachers online,” YMCA officials said. “During class breaks, and after schoolwork is completed, the Y staff will involve students in fun and creative activities to keep them engaged and active. Students will be assigned to small groups of no more than nine children.”

There are some rules that families need to be aware of, such as face masks must be worn at all time by participants and staff, although there may be outdoor activities where the masks can be removed as long as the students can practice social distancing. There will be a pre-check-in screening and temperature check for all participants and staff members, and capacities will be limited to allow for social distancing. Participants will be reminded several times throughout the day to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer. There will also be a deep cleaning of the site each night and on weekends.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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