Club Oak Park has not reopened for 2020-21 school year

OPUSD Extended Care Program’s future still uncertain

Club Oak Park Logo (Photo Courtesy of Sara Ahl)

Among the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon Oak Park Unified School District is the halting of childcare offered through the district.

Club Oak Park is the OPUSD Extended Care Program, which has provided before and after-school childcare for more than 850 students per year between kindergarten and eighth grade since its launch in August 2018.

Club Oak Park is offered at OPUSD’s three elementary schools – Oak Hills Elementary school, Brookside Elementary School and Red Oak Elementary School – as well as Medea Creek Middle School.

“Club Oak Park aims to provide a nurturing, supportive environment that extends the OPUSD climate of care beyond school hours,” Extended Care Program Director Sara Ahl wrote to the Talon.

Club Oak Park closed on March 13, 2020, when all OPUSD schools closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to Ahl, the district is not currently providing any child care; however, OPUSD did originally formulate a plan to reopen Club Oak Park during distance learning, beginning with a “small, consistent group of students who would be isolated from one another throughout every day.”

“With strict health and safety protocols in place, including physical distancing, face coverings, and detailed cleaning procedures, the program would have run as long as the Distance Learning model continued,” Ahl wrote.

According to an email sent to all Club Oak Park employees, by surveying all parents with children at the ages eligible to enroll at Club Oak Park, OPUSD determined that the number of parents willing to continue sending their children to Club Oak Park during distance learning was not sufficient to make the program “financially viable.”

“The District was prepared to run the program at a small loss, but could not do so with the number of parents expected to enroll based on the survey results,” Ahl wrote. “We had created a monthly fee structure that was as affordable as possible for parents while ensuring that it was as safe as possible.”

Club Oak Park staff is preparing a plan to reopen the program as soon as OPUSD allows them to do so, with a set of health and safety protocols to mitigate the COVID-19 risks as much as possible. 

According to Ahl, the services Club Oak Park offers students go beyond basic child care –they provide students with opportunities for both academic and social guidance and support.

“Children who attend Club Oak Park experience many benefits, including the interpersonal interactions and relationships built with staff and other students, various enrichment opportunities, and academic support,” Ahl wrote.

According to Ahl, while the future of the program is uncertain, Club Oak Park staff is prepared to continue the work they did before the pandemic.

“I cannot say for sure when the program will reopen but we are hopeful that we will be able to open our doors at some point this year,” Ahl wrote. “Our staff members are very eager to welcome back our students and we look forward to picking up where we left off as soon as we reopen our doors!”