Parents around Ann Arbor are petitioning the Ann Arbor Public School (AAPS) Board to reinstate before and after child-care programs that were instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the May 12 board meeting, AAPS Superintendent Jeanice Swift announced the district’s plans to discontinue the school-aged child care for the 2021-22 school year. Swift cited the lack of staffing and the closing of the COVID pandemic as the reasons for the program’s end.
In previous years, AAPS has used a large group model of child care, where children would gather in a gym or cafeteria before and after school. However, with COVID, this model is not safe for elementary students who more than likely will not be fully vaccinated in the fall. Further issues for the large group model are COVID cases and quarantine issues.
Throughout the 2021-22 school year, the district plans to improve the program to more closely align with its rec and ed and equity missions.
Although the district says they’ll work to update the model, parents don’t feel this is enough. The petition argues that, although the board states that the decision was based on equity, the consequences of these decisions will have the opposite effect. The document states that “The absence of before and aftercare will also disproportionately impact families of color, who are less likely than white families to have a stay-at-home parent, flexible work schedules, or work-from-home options that make these changes easier to absorb.”
Parents are asking that the board reinstate the before and after school care program for the 2021-22 school year. Additionally, the petition also gives suggestions for how to help with a staffing program. This includes incentives and bonuses for recruiting before and aftercare staff, working with outside organizations, partnering with university education programs, and even limiting before and aftercare to children who need it most.
The core of this petition is to help working parents, particularly those of single-parent households, ensure they have the care for their children they need during a, particularly stressful time. “For many parents, our work — and thus our financial stability — is possible only because of before and aftercare,” the petition states. “The district’s decision to not to provide this care after returning to full-time in-person education will cause serious financial and professional disruptions to countless families in our community.”
As of the May 26 board meeting, the Ann Arbor Public School board is holding firm to their decision to cancel before and after school care programs for children.
To read more and/or sign the petition, check it out here.