• September 24, 2020

Youth programs face tough choices - Odessa American: News

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Youth programs face tough choices

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Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020 2:53 pm

David Chancellor, the executive director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Permian Basin, is sandwiched between a rock and a hard place as the organization prepares to reopen its doors at the beginning of June.

The Boys and Girls Clubs have been closed since March 15 due to COVID-19.

Only two of the three Boys and Girls Clubs in Odessa will reopen on June 1 — Wilkerson Club located at 800 E. 13th St. and Headlee Club located at 1476 N. Knox Ave. Chancellor hopes the Woodson Club, located at 10376 E. Murphy St., can reopen sometime this summer.

The Boys and Girls Clubs are going to be limited to 80 children, which Chancellor said is about half of what they normally managed in the past. Everyone at the Boys and Girls Clubs will be required to wear a mask.

However, Chancellor said the hardest part about reopening at 50% capacity is the amount of kids he knows the Boys and Girls Clubs will have to turn away. He said the Boys and Girls Clubs will prioritize members whose parents need the facilities so they can go to work.

“We want to take care of the kids that have been with us for years and we want to focus on those where our services are deeply needed — not just to get your kids out to go and do something fun, but if you really need us, so you can go to work,” Chancellor said. “We are trying to talk to families.

“We are limited on who we can serve. That’s the hardest decision. We can’t serve everyone.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs in Odessa issued a statement on March 15 that after Ector County Independent School District and Midland Independent School District closed that organization would follow.

Chancellor explained the Boys and Girls Clubs in Odessa have experienced bad flu seasons, but he said there will be extra precautions in place with the coronavirus. Chancellor explained that he doesn’t want children at the Wilkerson Club or Headlee Club to bring the coronavirus home to their parents or grandparents.

In addition to a limited number of children and mask requirement, Chancellor said the Boys and Girls Clubs have also purchased hospital-grade sanitizer that will be used to sanitize rooms. He said the sanitizer cost $1,200.

“Whenever you have lots of kids together playing, it’s an environment for disease to spread,” Chancellor said. “The threat of the coronavirus is those kids taking it home to their parents. We want to run responsibly, because people need us.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs in Odessa aren’t the only organizations altering its modes of operation.

The Odessa Family YMCA reopened Monday at reduced hours, while the Police Athletic League hasn’t determined if the nearly 30-year program is going to take place this year.

According to the Odessa Family YMCA website, members will be asked to complete a waiver, screening questionnaire and temperature screenings, all must wash or sanitize their hands upon entry and before and after workouts, members will be restricted to a 90-minute time limit inside the facility and all members must wear full coverage gloves or masks at all times.

During a phone interview with Odessa Police Department spokesperson Cpl. Steve LeSueur, he explained on Thursday afternoon that a decision hasn’t been made if PAL will take place this summer. LeSueur said it would be unfortunate if PAL wasn’t able to continue. A year ago, PAL had a total of 150 children split into two sessions throughout the summer.

“This does help build those positive relationships between law enforcement and these kids,” LeSueur said. “It’s unfortunate that we can’t have it this year due to COVID-19, but at the same time, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

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