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Boston-area YMCAs to close fitness centers, pools on Monday to concentrate on feeding and caring for kids and teens

James Morton, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston announced today:

In light of the uncertainty created by the closure of schools and the increased threat of the Coronavirus, we must focus our resources of time, talent and treasure on those amongst who are at the greatest risk – our children. We have, therefore, elected to close our fitness centers and pools on Monday, March 16, and utilize our facilities to feed children and to care for the youth and teens in the communities we serve. We will encourage families to keep their children at home; however, it goes without saying that some parents must work and some parents are first responder and "essential" employees who must work to protect us. These families need safe and reliable places for their children.

We will engage a strategy that enabled us to serve more than 837,000 meals and snacks to children in 2019, as well as a strategy that saw us serve the needs of 65,000 youth and teens. In the coming weeks, the need for food and services for children will increase exponentially. We must step up and act consistently with our legacy.

Since our inception in 1851, we have always been that organization that walked in the direction of the challenge. Today, we are being asked to make a choice; either we close our branches entirely in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus or we feed and care for children while taking the calculated risk that we can protect them from exposure to the virus. We cannot stand by and permit children to go hungry or to be traumatized by their lack of options.

Morton said that in coming days, the Y will be adding a series of "virtual and live stream classes" to its member app for adults. He asked adult members to keep paying their membership fees to help the Y in its new temporary focus until it can re-open its fitness centers and pools:

Naturally, we will put your membership on hold, but if you want to join us in service to others, we invite you to join us. We know your membership is meaningful to us and that "meaning" lies in the relationships you have built at the Y. Those relationships are based upon the humanity you share with others. We are asking you to support us in service of "our" children. The Coronavirus has created enormous uncertainty; however, how we manage it is in our control. Join us in creating a history that demonstrates how we came together and served those who needed us the most. Let us tell the story of the "meaningful" ways in which we responded. Let that be the story that is told.

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Comments

I was starting to worry about those kids. There are some arguments against closing schools-that it is a hardship to people who can't work at home or afford to stay, and that it sets the kids loose in the community, those pesky little disease vectors ;-).
But I get there are also plenty of reasons to close them. The Ys work helps a great great deal in the equation.

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Voting closed 14

They are also planning to cram together kids from multiple centers into a handful of facilities, with no allowances for whether staff have, say, elders at risk at home or are at risk themselves.

This raises questions of whether anyone thought this whole thing through or consulted local public health about the risks to workers or communities. (I know someone who works in one of the locations that isn't being shut and is being crammed full).

Taking care of the kids is very important and something has to be done for kids who need the food and supervision. But it doesn't sound like the public health downside was very well thought out.

What we really need is the legislature and governor to step up to the plate, provide assistance for working parents, and put moritoriums on losing money from aid programs if parents keep the kids home. They did it in the Merrimack Valley after the gas explosions, they can do it here.

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Voting closed 20

In my household, we've decided to take social distancing seriously, but at the same time, I gotta get my swim in. Closing the Y takes away my biggest temptation.

Every morning last week, I half expected the doors to be locked when I showed up in the morning. Glad they will be, now.

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Voting closed 16

While I support the closure and the focus on childcare, the letter is not clear on how they are handling membership fees, which are automatically charged to credit/debit accounts. Are the automatic payments being stopped, and members can choose to donate, or do members have to specifically request the monthly fee be put on hold?

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Voting closed 16

They surely won't have bandwidth to do so system-wide:

We ask that you continue to pay your membership fee so that we can use this revenue to “do good” during the time of uncertainty. Naturally, we will put your membership on hold, but if you want to join us in service to others, we invite you to join us. We know your membership is meaningful to us and that “meaning” lies in the relationships you have built at the Y. Those relationships are based upon the humanity you share with others. We are asking you to support us in service of “our” children.

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Voting closed 12

as did many other members at my branch-they were very low on the paper forms they use to process the holds. I would suggest that tomorrow might not be a great day to do this, since they will be swamped with the new programming, (not to mention members not on their email list who show up not knowing about the closing) so if you can maybe wait a few days.

As for staff, I was told that some have been scheduled to work over the next two weeks, and there is uncertainty over what will happen after that.

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Voting closed 10

For protecting public health while also protecting children.

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First and foremost I would like to say to everyone who has contracted this virus I am wishing you a speedy and healthy recovery. I would like to secondly, think all individuals who are attempting to help stem, prevent and provide care for those who are currently affected, THANK YOU.

Not to be insensitive to this current crisis and the overwhelming need for childcare due to all these closures, who or what will cover any losses that the child care taker made news as a result of working with a large population. If a child care worker or staff or what have you become affected will they be compensated and made whole accordingly because they were forced to work in situations in which everyone else is running away from.

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Voting closed 5

In the face of a pandemic group care centers are utterly irresponsible.

Families need to take responsibility for their own members. Herding the kids together to make them easier to watch is also going to kill half the grandparents that are primary caregivers in the community.

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Voting closed 11