As parents juggle a work-life balance that has been turned upside down and inside out because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the local Y has stepped up to help. 

The YMCA of the North Shore is providing educational and enrichment support to more than 600 school-age children and their families on Cape Ann and across the North Shore through its School-Age Learning Pod Program.

This program will be open to 34 children in Rockport and 45 in Gloucester onsite at the Cape Ann YMCA on Middle Street. The program at the Ipswich Y is full, but there is waiting list for Essex and Ipswich children 

"As we continue to pivot to meet the needs of our community throughout COVID-19, we recognized that this school year would be different. As the largest provider of childcare on the North Shore, the Y wanted to help," said Chris Lovasco, the YMCA of North Shore's president and CEO. 

The Y's Learning Pods provide families with additional childcare options once the school day ends whether that school day is in-person or remote. 

The program provides technology and education blocks for virtual learning; homework guidance; creative arts and STEM blocks; social-emotional learning, recess, and outdoor adventures; lunch and snack; access to gymnastics and pools; and an inclusion specialist to support students. 

The Y's initiative came as parents and caregivers found themselves faced with juggling remote work and managing their children's new learning schedules. 

Available at YMCA of the North Shore's seven facilities, those interested in enrolling their child in the program can visit https://www.northshoreymca.org/school-age-learning-pods for more information.

Besides Cape Ann and Ipswich, the pods program is also available ay the YMCAs in Beverly, Salem, Swampscott, Haverhill, Plaistow, New Hampshire.

"We are pleased to join our public school education partners to provide wrap-around support including remote learning days," Lovasco said.

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

Y CHILD CARE

In addition to its new Learning Pod Program, the Cape Ann YMCA is now accepting registration for its new childcare center. 

The Cape Ann YMCA at Gloucester Crossing will be openitsinfant room, toddler room, and three preschool rooms in January. 

The Y will have a license for 69 children, so space is limited. 

Those interested in enrolling their child may contact Angela Cresta at crestaa@northshoreymca.org for more information.

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