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YMCA takes on essential role for area’s essential employees

Even though schools are closed, children are home, and some are working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, some must still leave and go to work.

For those people, the Vicksburg YMCA is stepping up to help.

The YMCA is offering free daycare services for Warren County residents who are considered essential employees and must report to work during the outbreak. The daycare is available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Purks YMCA off of East Clay Street.

“When this pandemic started and schools were canceled, the Y realized there was going to be a need for childcare services for people that have to go to work. They can’t just say, ‘I’m going to stay at home and not go,’” Vicksburg YMCA executive director Phillip Doiron said. “We’re doing this as a community service.”

Parents do not need to be members of the YMCA to drop off their children. They must, however, call the YMCA at 601-638-1071 to register ahead of time and bring a work ID and a letter from their employer stating that they are an essential employee. Social distancing requirements mean space at the daycare is limited to about 27 children per day, and slots fill up on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dana Tankersley, the YMCA’s director of childcare, said the daycare has been averaging about a dozen children in attendance during its first two weeks of operation.

Tankersley said the daycare abides by all of the government’s social distancing guidelines. Lunch is also provided, thanks to a program by the Vicksburg Warren School District that is offering meals to children all over the county.

“We are putting them at different ends of the table, and separating them in the gym. We usually have right at 12 (children) and try to keep them as separated as we can,” Tankersley said. “Since the Y is closed, it’s a little easier to man than if it was full.”

Tankersley said the YMCA is also taking other precautionary measures, such as checking the temperature of both children and their parents when kids are dropped off, and regular cleaning of the facility.

“I washed about a gazillion Legos last weekend,” Tankersley said with a laugh.

Tankersley added that she was glad the YMCA could provide the daycare as a community service.

“When I had small children at home, I had no family here. It’s hard under the circumstances to ask a friend, or even family members to help,” she said. “We’re very glad that we have the ability to take care of that.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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