The Middle School/Teen Center, formerly known as the Dru Pippin Youth Center, reopened last week after having been closed for nearly seven months. The center is resuming select services for children in grades six through 12.
“We are happy to be open and want the ideas of our youth on programming or in-house events they would like to have planned,” said Andrea Ogle, the facility’s director.
Youth group clubs have resumed meetings, she said, but high-participation activities like lock-ins, dances and family nights will not be offered due to the pandemic.
“Programming-wise, we have activities daily in the art room, in the teen lounge, out in our gaming area,” said Kevin Keeney with the MSTC. “We have special events that we can do in the gym, which draws a lot of kids, but we can only take 20 at a time in the gym.”
Normal after-school operating hours — 2:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday — have resumed, but MSTC will be closed on Saturdays as field trips have received a blanket cancellation.
According to Ogle, the center is focused on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 while fulfilling its mission to serve as a supplemental support system for the community’s students.
“This gives them a safe and positive place to socialize and learn,” she said.
Ogle added she is looking forward to “providing quality programming, positive social interaction and guidance for our youth.”
Below is a list of changes to the center’s normal operating procedures that parents must know before sending their children to the Middle School/Teen Center:
— Everyone must wear a mask upon entering the building.
— Each individual is screened when they enter the facility — temperatures are taken, and a list of questions are asked.
— Everyone must wash their hands when they enter.
— Every 30 minutes, high-touch areas are wiped down.
— Each room has a sign in/out sheet.
— There is a limit of 10 people per room, and more for the gym due to its higher square footage and the ability to socially distance.
— There are 30-minute staff rotations for cleanliness.
— The center set up an identified isolation area in the event that a youth does not feel well.
While the center plans to remain closed for holidays such as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, its doors will be open to students from 1 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays during their winter break.
Sondra Patrick, an administrative assistant with the MSTC, said the season would look a bit different if not for COVID-19.
“Right now, we would be up running with our culinary club, and they would be getting ready to fix the Thanksgiving dinner for their families, and then we would invite those families in,” she said. “Unfortunately, we can’t do that this year.”
In more exciting news, Patrick added that the facility has acquired a new device some children may like — a virtual reality headset.
She said the staff is encouraged to bring some holiday cheer to the center.
“We’re going to try to make it special,” Patrick said.
For more information, contact the Middle School/Teen Center at 573.596.0209.