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Students socialize ... at a distance ... in the reopened youth center in White Salmon. 

This week, the Community Youth Center in White Salmon is reopening to a limited capacity.

This will be the first time since mid-March the youth center was in operation. The youth center will reopen in a modified format, and at much less capacity than it was operating at before March.

The reopened center will provide care for 10 children from six families who had been registered with the center previously. The families were selected based on need, including single-parent households and families who have experienced layoffs, youth center director Autumn Williams said.

Williams said the center is currently not accepting applications or registering new clients due to capacity concerns. Currently, youth center staff are preparing a waitlist for those who are still searching for childcare options.

“I’ve got a lot of kids that want to come back but I’ve got to prioritize. For right now it’s got to be people who are more in need,” Williams said.

The youth center’s hours of operations have changed as well, now providing care from 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Williams said this change allows students to participate in remote learning during class time, and also gives parents and guardians a greater block of time during the day when the child is supervised. 

With the change in hours of operations, the dietary schedule will also change, Williams said. She said she is planning to provide lunches each day for the children.

Having computer and internet access, Williams said the youth center is ready to support remote learning. Williams said volunteers will be available on a rotating schedule, including a metal health specialist, an arts project tutor, and a math tutor for further support.

Williams said children enrolled with the youth center will participate in COVID-19 prevention activities, including social distancing, wearing masks at all times, and getting their temperatures taken daily. Parents and guardians will have to sign a weekly questionnaire for the students to be accepted.

Williams said she is hopeful that reopening the youth center, in any capacity, will bring benefits to the youths and children as well as the parents and guardians who participate in the program.  

“It might be kind of encouraging for the students to have this kind of classroom-esque environment,” she said.

“I’m hoping the best, it’s hard to predict anything. We’ll know a lot more once the first week is done,” Williams said. “I’m working on my fourth year right now and I feel like I just got this.”

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