BISBEE — Realizing the need of students in Bisbee and surrounding areas, the Boy & Girls Club of Bisbee is opening its doors to provide a safe, healthy and fun learning environment for after school activities.

Though the opening on Thursday did not bring in the normal number of students, the energy the first few students received from staff and volunteers set the standard for what the coming year would hold, in spite of COVID–19.

At the beginning of June, BGCB held a comprehensive training with all employees on COVID–19, policies and procedures and implemented a model which was outlined following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Boys & Girls Clubs of America guidelines, said Annette Flores, BGCB executive director.

Before entering the clubhouse, all students are required to have their temperature taken, said. And all must wear masks while on the premises.

“If a child’s temperature is over CDC guidelines of 100.4, they will be isolated and the parent or guardian will be called immediately,” Flores noted. “Isolation will take place in one of the main offices and remain until pickup. The office will then be quarantined for 24 hours following CDC guidelines, then disinfected and sanitized.

“Our staff have worked tirelessly to provide the safest procedures possible to ensure all members are healthy. These procedures include thorough cleaning and disinfecting of tables, supplies and more. Every effort will be made to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Several employees have been tested each time Chiricahua Community Health Clinic held a testing blitz. The information was shared and all personnel were encouraged to be tested, she added.

So far, 15 children have enrolled in the after school program, with extra emphasis on mandatory tutoring sessions to help them excel in school, she said. BGCB accepts children from age five to 17 years old from Bisbee, Naco, Palominas, McNeal, other areas and those who are homeschooled.

For the time being, staff will pick up students from Greenway and Lowell until the Bisbee Unified School District opens the bus routes. She hopes to secure an additional van to provide transportation home to those in the Naco and San Jose areas which might hinder them from participating in programming due to transportation issues.

“We have been working with the principals at Greenway and Lowell School to ensure members can still arrive for the program. BGCB professionals will be picking up the members from Greenway and checking their temperatures before transporting to the clubhouse. Once school moves into the hybrid model, we will re–evaluate this procedure as memberships increase and the need of families. The club is here to assist the schools and families, as we as a community begin to reopen in altered formats.”

This year, there will be a special focus on the club’s Academic Success and Tutoring Program if the children attend from noon to 2:30 p.m., she continued.

“Over the years, as a national program BGCB has always implemented a tutoring program and homework help during the after-school hours,” she continued. “This year my team and I revamped the program to best assist the children, teens and families.”

“As a rural community the internet is limited, electronic devices are limited and professional help is limited. Taking on the task is what clubs across the nation have always done, filling the gap where needed in each community. Right now, the gap is educational resources and the child’s complete wellbeing, including mental and physical health. The program will be fun, engaging and rewarding for all.”

All personnel assisting the club members are college students, in the Top 10 of their high school classes, valedictorians or received technical training and all are under the watchful eye of Jose Delagado, retired educator and longtime supporter.

Flores has been with the BGCB for the past 18 years.

“It is a long time, but when you are in a position which you love it flies by,” she said.