COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The coronavirus pandemic has presented new challenges for parents and families at Columbus Air Force Base, compelling more innovation on new ways of learning and caretaking.
The Columbus AFB Youth Center has taken a look at how to help families while maintaining safety and creativity.
“Keeping the kids safe is the main concern, we don’t want any kids to get sick,” said Latasha Jones-Swoope, Youth Center director. “We just have to be flexible and make sure we’re here to meet the needs of the parents that need our care.”
The Youth Center provides a safe and engaging environment supervised by caring and trained staff with programs offering a wide range of educationally enhanced programs, instructional classes, field trips and events for youths and teens 9-18 years of age on Columbus AFB.
Although a majority of events and/or projects were postponed, canceled or turned virtual, the staff at the Youth Center have been an essential aid with creating new projects that allow the children to stay active and engaged.
“We’ve got a great staff here that come up with a lot of activities,” said Terri Graves, Youth Center School Age Program coordinator. “They’re always good at coming up with so many activities and plans. Many of the ideas are just a spur of the moment activity, coming up with things to do and keeping the children active, excited, and happy.”
Along with an active process of new projects and activities, the staff have also shifted their procedures to aid in maintaining safety. Additional protective measures are now in place include increased sanitation and personal hygiene requirements for everyone in the facility. New entry procedures are now in place to limit foot traffic in and out of the facility, thus limiting the exposure risks to the clean environment.
“We now do screenings and temperature checks of the youth as they come in,” Jones-Swoope said. “We make sure that they don’t have any signs or symptoms as we are very open with the parents to let us know if the kids have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or if they’ve been around anybody who has been tested positive.”
Though stressful, Jones-Swoope notes that the children and staff have be a major aid in understanding and flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the kids have taken it absolutely wonderfully,” Jones-Swoope said. “They have been really good and just go with it. Some understand what’s going on and they have questions, but they know to wash their hands, the staff have masks on, we have our sanitizer, we do temperature and more.”