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Recap: Bridging the Gap for Schools


On August 19, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 20th installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Panelists included Amanda Sinkler, the founder of Newtown Discovery Preschool; Greta Wagner, the executive director/EVP of Chelsea Piers Connecticut; Dan Burns, the director of sport and fitness at Columbia Association; Maria Gonzalez, the CEO of ClubFitness Greensboro; and Bill McBride, the co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness. The discussion was led and moderated by Brent Darden, the founder of Brent Darden Consulting and chair of REX Roundtables.

The following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, centered on filling the need of education and child care for kids in the community:


  • Clubs have an opportunity to fill the education gap for kids in the community, beyond simply offering child care. Parents are stressed by the lack of support for educating their children while they’re out of school, and clubs can meet that need.
  • Schools are reaching out to various organizations, including health clubs, about hosting learning centers.
  • It’s important to be flexible in your operations while hosting child care, education programs, and virtual programs and services. This is uncharted territory for everyone.
  • Ask yourself how you can use your available space to help serve families in the community.
  • To host education programs, you will likely have to get licensed by your community’s Board of Education.
  • Online physical education classes are a great way to get kids active during the breaks in their school schedules. In states where clubs are still required to be closed, this is a viable option for engaging members and families in the area.
  • If you’re working with multiple school districts to host learning centers, be mindful of the differences in these schools’ schedules and how they operate. Try separating kids into groups based on their grade, teacher, etc.
  • Clubs can support schools and parents in many ways, from simply making sure students are staying on task and getting their homework done to providing recreational activities once their work is finished.
  • Depending on the school districts you work with, students could be on synchronous learning schedules — structured lessons at specific times through live streams — or asynchronous learning schedules — lessons to be done on a more flexible schedule. It’s important to know the difference between the two in putting together your program.
  • Clubs can also help children get socialization opportunities they aren’t getting at home.
  • College students are another demographic clubs can serve through workouts and sports opportunities.
  • Parents want their children to hone their skills in certain sports like tennis and swimming, and clubs can meet this need by providing lessons. It’s a great way to develop kids mentally, physically and socially.
  • Masks for children are a bit of a grey area — depending on your state and county COVID-19 guidelines, as well as your facility capabilities, mask requirements could be different for everyone.
  • Consider converting your unused studios into classroom spaces.
  • Between the five panelists’ clubs, rates for school replacement programs range anywhere from $25 per day for only members to $390 a week to a $5,700 payment for committing to send kids to the program five days a week through the end of the year.
  • Some parents are unwilling to commit to children education programs at clubs because they’re unsure when schools will reopen.
  • For education programs, recruit and hire employees with a background in educating children. If they’re available, certified teachers are a great option.
  • Regardless of the size of your club, you can get involved in school replacement programs, and helping kids and families in the community.
  • Contact your corporate accounts and let them know you have a resource for their employees’ kids.
  • The positives of beginning a school replacement program outweigh the negatives — having a positive impact on the community is very meaningful and strengthens your club’s culture.
  • Don’t offer this program just to make money — consider how your club can create value, and positively influence the health and wellness of your community.
  • Providing education opportunities for kids and families can help cement clubs’ status as essential businesses.
  • Consider hiring a nurse to be onsite and handle COVID-19 screenings. This is reassuring for parents.

To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 21st installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: Mental Health for Fitness Pros” on Wednesday, August 26 at 2 p.m. EST. Limited seats are available. Click here to reserve your spot.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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