The 2020 summer session got underway Monday at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County, as the staff at the Bair Family Clubhouse on Orchard Lane welcomed in 56 club members.
Under normal conditions, the Boys and Girls Clubs (BGC) would be serving between 500 to 600 kids a day during the summer. But under COVID-19 restrictions, it is limited to serving only 100 members, with just one of its five Billings clubhouses open.
President & CEO Brian Dennis credited the BGC staff Monday for devising a safety plan that allows the Bair clubhouse to be open.
"Anyone who comes into the building, they get screened right upfront," explained Dennis. "When the kids come in, they get into a group, and they stay in that same group all day, and we track that participation."
RiverStone Health approved the club's safety plan to serve a limited number of members during the first months of the pandemic, and those protocols remain in place now that the summer session is underway.
"We've stayed active with our cleaning protocols," said Dennis. "All the stuff we have been doing to stay open the past few months, we continue to do. We're just doing it with a few more kids now."
Dennis expects Monday's 56 club members in attendance to grow steadily until the club reaches its limit of 100. After that, he's not sure.
"For now, we've identified the first wave of members we've invited to join us this summer," said Dennis. "They started this morning, and the kids are having a great day. We're able to keep that safe social distance and keep our groups separated, and our staff has done a nice job of preparing a plan for them."
The club is in conversation with school officials in both Billings and Lockwood concerning the possible reopening of school based clubhouses in the Billings area.
"We're trying to figure out a way to serve more kids this summer," said Dennis. "We're putting a plan together and we'll see. It's still a work in progress."
For now, the Bair Family Clubhouse is the only one open in the Billings area. The other clubhouses are located at McKinley Elementary, Medicine Crow Middle School, Castle Rock Middle School, and Lockwood School.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County was first established in Billings in 1971.