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Virtual schools impact JBLM

Less daycare slots, kids at home, base working through major coordination issues

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The impact of local school districts going virtual only this fall is a priority for all senior leaders on Joint Base Lewis-McChord said Col. Owen Ray, I Corps, during a townhall meeting Wednesday.
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“We are working on the problem,” he added.
How single and dual working military couples serve their country and have their children watched is a dilemma, especially considering that childcare on base is operating at 60 percent capacity, and as off-base care options tighten due to both increased demand and closures due to the financial downturn.  Q-13 news reported last month that 133 daycares in Pierce County closed since March.
Col. Skye Duncan, JBLM’s garrison commander said base daycare is completely capped and all spots awarded to families.
“Nine hundred and fifty slots is our maximum right now,” Duncan explained. 
Base officials are studying whether more slot could be offered, however Duncan had no promises.  He said that next announcement should come August 19 during the next townhall.
“We know it has created some difficult choices for families,” he added.
Childcare centers will help support school aged children this fall with a caveat.
“These are childcare workers - they are not school teachers,” Duncan said.
Base childcare representatives said childcare workers will help children log onto their school websites and be available to support kids doing their school work. 
Children over the age of five will be required to wear a mask in the childcare facilities.
Duncan said more in-home daycares are needed on the base to support families that can’t get slots in the childcare centers.  Currently, the base has 10 homes with openings, but it is expected those will reach capacity.
Duncan said home care givers are paid, plus the base will provide a $1,000 bonus. 
“It is an easy way to increase capacity,” Duncan said.
School liaison officials said school districts on and off the base will offer a regular curriculum this fall, plus provide technology needed to students. Military families with any concerns or questions about specific situations are invited to reach out to the liaison office.

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