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A Day In The Life At Program During COVID-19

February 18
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Editor’s note: The following article is from the view of a child in a Wisconsin Youth Program during COVID-19. The goal is for families and community to see what a child sees and does throughout their day in program.

By Riley, age 8

I hop on the bus with excitement in my step. I cannot wait to see my friends at school and see what project Ms. Leah has planned for us.

As I walk down the bus aisle to my assigned seat, I feel safe. I look back at my best friend to say good morning and can feel her welcoming smile behind her mask.

When I arrive at school, I am greeted at the front door by a familiar face. “Good Morning Riley! I love your new mask! Puppies and kittens, so cute!” Ms. Cass takes my temperature and sends me on my way. I already can’t wait to see her again at recess. Ms. Cass was my After School teacher in Kindergarten and 1st grade. She makes me feel at home as I take on 2nd grade in a completely new way.

I put my backpack in my cubby and rush to the sink. “Good Morning Riley! Thank you for washing your hands right away each day. You are doing your part to keep yourself and all of your friends safe.” I perk up with pride at Ms. Leah’s recognition. I sing my ABCs twice to ensure I wash my hands for a full 20 seconds. Ms. Leah has a silly poster above the sink with instructions on how to wash your hands by making animal shapes. My favorite is making a bear claw with one hand to wash my finger tips on the palm of my other hand. The fun techniques help me feel extra clean and safe.

Once all of my friends have arrived, we move to the gym for morning yoga. This morning routine helps calmly wake up my body and get my brain ready to learn. In the gym we have plenty of space to stand 6 feet apart. I reach up as high as I can and take in a huge breath. I feel my mask suck into my mouth. I look around at all of my friends to see it has happened to all of us. We burst out into collective laughter. Over the laugher, I hear Ms. Leah say, “Remember to take slow and steady breaths.” We all try again and this time our masks stay in place and our focus goes back to the yoga poses.

Back in the classroom, we log onto our morning Zoom meetings. “Hi Ms. Becca! Good Morning!” I am thrilled to see my teacher on the screen. She is so sweet and patient with all of my classmates. Zoom school is cool because I get to see inside all of my friend’s homes. Tommy’s cat is always looking for pets. Online school is definitely weird and different but I know I am lucky to still be able to play with my friends at Wisconsin Youth Company.

I need a break from screen time so I walk away from my desk and play with dinosaurs. “Let’s build Jurassic park with magnatiles!” I look up excitedly to see a couple of my friends also finished their Zoom lessons and are ready to play. Playing here with my friends is so much more fun than playing alone at home.

While we are away from our desks, Ms. Leah cleans our desks with Clorox wipes to prepare for morning snack. “Time to wash your hands for snack,” I hear Ms. Leah announce. Ms. Leah puts on her bright blue gloves and places a bag of Chex Mix at each desk. While we are eating, Ms. Leah switches out the magnatiles and dinosaurs for action figures and a tree house. She says she rotates the toys for cleaning, but I love that we have new choices throughout the day.

I bring my laptop to the quiet corner of the room for my morning reading lesson. I lean back in a comfy rocker chair with my headphones on. I love having the choice to sit where I am most comfortable for my school work.

As soon as my lesson ends and I take my headphones off I hear “Recess! Will you help me make a snowman?”

Outside time is a great chance to take a mask break. It also gives me a chance to forget about the pandemic and feel like a kid! I get to run and jump and play! I play active socially distanced games with my friends like obstacle courses, catch, and rainbow tag where we run and touch objects instead of each other. I am so thankful for this chance to simply play with my friends.

When we come back inside, we all mask up, wash our hands, and settle in for virtual math. Having a brain break to play outside helps me refocus on my school work.

After lunch, its project time! “Today we will be building carnival games out of these recycled materials. Then we will take turns playing each other’s games!” Wow! What a fun activity. Ms. Leah always has something great planned for us.

By 3:30 I am exhausted from a fun-packed day. I already can’t wait for tomorrow.