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Remote Learning Partners With Physical Activity At NYA



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With Newtown Public School students starting the academic year in a hybrid model — students attend in-school lessons part of the week in rotating cohorts — NYA Sports & Fitness Center launched a program to help support parents and students.

NYA Executive Director Ian Yorty and Board of Directors Chair Maggie Conway explained recently that the new effort stems from NYA’s pre-existing Play + Learning programs.

Yorty shared that NYA offers camps and other activities through its Play + Learning model, and, when the district announced it would return to school buildings with a hybrid model for the start of the 2020-21 school year, Yorty said NYA wanted to help find a solution for parents and students — specifically for families with working parents. Yorty said NYA as an organization works to find opportunities to serve the community “wherever there may be a need, especially for the youth.”

Elementary school-aged students, Yorty said, need support and guidance in navigating remote learning, and that need prompted NYA to expand its Play + Learning programming to offer this year’s daily learning environment, which has students attend NYA on the days when they are remote learning and sign in to access their school work from there.

In describing what a typical day is like for students in the school year program, Yorty said the day starts with a physical activity session, then students log on to do school work; there a is a mid-day physical activity session, then students log on for more school work, and the day ends with another physical activity session.

“We wanted to make sure that the day was broken up with physical activity sessions, because that really helps facilitate learning and a positive learning experience,” said Yorty.

According to Conway, there are roughly 17 students in the program, and they rotate attending school at NYA, based on when they attend school in Newtown Public Schools.

To the adults overseeing the program, including Yorty and Conway, the enthusiasm the program builds is evident. Yorty said the students become excited to complete their school work knowing a break is coming soon. Then the students run around and “be kids,” Yorty shared.

Conway said close attention is paid to sanitization and safety measures. Temperatures are taken as individuals arrive, tables are spaced six to eight feet apart, and there is frequent handwashing, along with other precautions.

As a site licensed with the state to offer youth camps, Yorty said NYA was familiarized with state guidelines and pandemic protocols over the summer.

Conway and Yorty both expressed gratitude for their fellow NYA staffers who are supporting the program.

“We are very cautions that we have the right people for this... parents are trusting us and therefore we want to have the right people,” Yorty said.

Yorty said it feels good to leverage NYA’s ability to offer programs to support the community’s level of need and help with “how challenging the current environment is for everyone.”

Yorty said if Newtown continues to use the hybrid model beyond early October, NYA will continue to consider ways it can provide support to the community and would transition to an after-school program if the district transitions to full in-school learning. For now, the program is still open and parents can sign students up. For more information about NYA and its programs, see its website, nyasportsfitness.com. According to Yorty the average cost of the current program is $45 a day per student, and parents can sign up for longer or shorter options. Conway added that the current program runs from 8 am to 4 pm and an extended day option runs until 5:30 pm.

Christine Tisi runs a physical activity session for NYA Sports & Fitness Center’s Play + Learning school program.
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