With the beginning of the school year around the corner, the Bethel 4-H Program is still working to put its after-school programs in place. The problem is how to do it safely to protect students and staff from the coronavirus.
Kellie Johnson is the Assistant Director of the Bethel 4-H Program, which operates under the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She says that the after-school program normally has 50 kids enrolled in it, from Kindergarteners to 6th graders, meeting from 3:15-6 p.m. daily. But that does not look possible this year.
“Right now, everything is just up in the air," Johnson said. "Honestly, I’m not sure what it’s going to look like. I mean, it’s tough. All we can do is work with what we have right now, and we want to make sure that we’re responding to the needs of our families safely.”
Johnson feels confident that 4-H can continue to provide some programs this school year. It has STEM kits to distribute to kids. One idea is for the kids to meet outside in regular cohorts of 10 to 15 students to discuss the kits, and also meet in online Zoom sessions three times per week.
Whether the organization can hold large club meetings and sponsor sporting events and other programs, as it has in the past, is still being worked out.
Johnson says that the 4-H meal distribution program will continue through the fall. Parents can pick up a week’s worth of meals for their children between 4-6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Families do not have to be signed up with 4-H to participate.