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Summit County leaders work to provide child care and tutoring during pandemic

A girl participates in a science activity at Keystone Science School. The school joined 35 other organizations to provide more support for child care during the pandemic.
Photo from Keystone Science School

KEYSTONE — In a school year unlike any other, community members are coming together to support students and parents with child care and tutoring. 

Keystone Science School joined 35 other organizations to create the Summit County Program Provider Collaborative, which aims to provide more safe options for parents to access child care during days when students are participating in online learning. 

“The goal is to work collaboratively to increase the capacity of program providers to serve the Summit County community throughout the school year and beyond the pandemic,” Keystone Science School Executive Director Ellen Reid said. 

The collaborative started with workgroups involving leaders within government, community and business sectors to address the child care needs that are brought on by the pandemic. Right now, the Summit School District is in a hybrid model of learning, which means all students have at least one day a week when they are learning online. 

The collaborative has banded together to provide child care and support on the days that students are online. Although the district is in a hybrid mode, the collaborative is preparing for a situation in which the district might have to go all online. 

“If the school district had chosen to go to a fully online or remote environment, there was a lot of concern around families and children who wouldn’t have any care or even enrichment activities during those days,” Reid said. 

Reid said the collaborative is still working to get the word out about the programs to help parents get the child care they need. However, barriers stand in the way.

“Unfortunately, we can’t provide transportation, and I think that truly is a huge barrier for our community in accessing these resources,” she said. 

The collaborative is also working to provide more cost-efficient child care options for families. At Keystone Science School, programs typically cost $59 a day; however, students on free and reduced lunch are able to enroll for $7.50 a day. 

Other providers like the Breckenridge Recreation Center and Mountain Top Children’s Museum offer scholarships. 

“The start of the school year offered so many new challenges for families,” Reid said. “Navigating where to even begin was probably the biggest challenge.” 

A Keystone Science School instructor works with a student during a child care program. The science school joined 35 other organizations to create a collaborative, which aims to provide more child care support during the pandemic.
Photo from Keystone Science School

Colorado Learning Connections provides academic support throughout pandemic

One of the groups participating in the collaborative is Colorado Learning Connections Summit, a nonprofit organization that provides tutoring, ACT/SAT prep, college counseling, elite athlete programs, home schooling help and more to Summit County students. 

The program, which has been operating in Frisco since 2005, has worked to continue to provide services since the pandemic began. When schools first closed in March, the program offered services for free. 

“Our immediate response was, ‘This is going to be honestly devastating for our local students,’” Executive Director Mariko Totten said. “We were able to recognize that the need for educational services was increasing, but at the same time, a lot of people were unsure about their financial state.”

Summit County Program Provider Collaborative

These programs offer after-school care and some child care programs on Wednesdays for elementary-aged students:

  • Breckenridge Recreation Center
  • Frisco Fun Club
  • Keystone Science School
  • Mountain Top Children’s Museum
  • Silverthorne Recreation Center

Keystone Science School also offers child care for middle school students, ages 12 to 14, throughout the week.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the nonprofit has seen an increase in demand for its home schooling services, Totten said. 

“I really think that might be one of the most critical services we can provide,” she said. “Even with the hybrid model, it’s being able to talk students and families through their organization, their study skills, their planning, how to do homeschool for the first time. It’s a pretty overwhelming process.”

Now, the program has returned to teaching in person, while physically distancing and wearing masks. Dani Beavers, a tutor who has been with the program since 2009, said she had to get creative with her students by teaching them new skills through games like Battleship and hangman, which she was able to play virtually. 

Beavers said she’s been there to help support parents who are now having to take on a teaching role in their children’s lives. 

“Kids don’t receive the information from parents the same way they do from an outside person,” she said. “As a tutor or a teacher, when you deliver information, students take it in a much different fashion than they do when their parents tell them the exact same thing.”

The program also offers scholarship opportunities for students who aren’t able to afford tutoring, Totten said. 

“Access to resources is not always equal in the grand scheme of things, and we want to even out that playing field,” she said.


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