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Nearly three months after the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club headquarters closed for renovations, staff have returned and children’s laughter again rings through the facility.

But the reality of COVID-19 still looms and as preparations begin for the fall semester, just weeks away, officials struggle to determine what the club’s “new normal” will look like.

“There’s still a lot more questions that need to be answered,” said Anna Eaton, the club’s executive director, on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of moving parts that we’ve been challenged to move around.”

A nonprofit afterschool program that offers academic enrichment as well as fun, the club has locations in schools and neighborhoods with a home base at the Trower Center.

Anna Eaton, executive director of the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club, discusses renovations at the Trower Center, which began in April. Staff was slated to return to the club this week.Photo by Joel Rosenbaum — The Reporter
Because of the pandemic, the club has been serving the children of essential workers. With schools set to reopen, the club again will be open to all. And with the Vacaville Unified School District set to go with a hybrid model, with students set to receive classroom instruction on rotating days and times as well as distance learning, there’s no definitives yet on how many students the club could serve and how many hours branches may need to be open.

“We want to be flexible,” Eaton advised.

With so many unknowns, club officials have been meeting with school district officials as well as members of other local groups that serve children to discuss possibilities.

Some of those partners include The Leaven, Imagine That! and TGIF.

Concerns include how and where to serve the children with size limitations and social distancing in mind, transportation and operating hours, among other things.

“Our goal is to provide full-day service,” Eaton said.

Considering the rotating in-person school days at just 2 1/2 hours of instruction per day twice a week and parents likely needing childcare because they’re back at work, longer hours will be necessary. More staff, too, will be needed, and also more funding to pay for both.

All the what-ifs have apparently been almost overwhelming.

“It’s definitely added another layer of how we prepare for the school year,” Eaton emphasized.

Still, talks continue and plans evolve, all with the best interests of the kids a priority.

The school district has put out a survey to parents to gauge needs, Eaton said. The results will help the club, and other community partners, come up with a game plan.

Coming soon will be a schedule for the days and times students will be in school, which will fill another piece of the planning puzzle.

Regardless, Eaton said the club and its amazing staff and volunteers and board stands at the ready to serve the community’s youth and, in turn, their parents.

Fall registration at the Boys & Girls Club has begun.

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