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Richmond School Board votes to use schools for emergency child care

Posted at 11:52 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 00:07:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In a 6-0 vote, the Richmond School Boarded decided Monday night to allow the city to use five of its school buildings for emergency child care. The vote comes on the heels of a recent survey that showed 70% of 1,300 families surveyed, had no contingency plans for child care.

Some testimonials read at Monday’s virtual meeting highlighted the need for hundreds of families.

Mina Clemons, a parent of an RPS student, wrote that child care was critical to helping her family survive financially.

“I’ve battled almost losing my home, not having food to feed my kids and many late bills that keep piling up,” Clemons wrote. “I can’t imagine paying what little bit of hourly wage I am making for child care.”

Earlier this month, Mayor Levar Stoney asked the school board to consider offering the school buildings to child care providers, saying $3 million in funds from the Federal CARES Act would be used to pay for the service for eligible families.

Superintendent Jason Kamras recommended the use of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, Huguenot High School and Linwood Holton, Miles Jones, and Blackwell Elementary Schools.

Kamras said children of essential workers will be prioritized, but the offer will also be extended to other qualifying families, including parents who rely on benefits like TANF or SNAP.

“For example, a single parent who might not be categorized as an essential worker, but can’t do the job virtually and has three children at home, might qualify,” Kamras said.

The school administration said it will only be responsible for supplying the buildings while cleaning supplies and transportation will be up to the city. School board members also discussed safety measures, including updating HVAC systems to help clean the air filtering through school buildings.

While some voiced concerns about exposing students and staff to the COVID 19 virus, Kamras explained that all CDC safety guidelines would be followed.

Mayor Stoney thanked the school board for their decision and said the administration is currently implementing a plan. Kamras says it’s unlikely the schools will be ready by the start of school on September 8th. He said each school will be able to house around 100 students.