SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The schools across Springfield are empty. The district called off school for the rest of the week due to Covid-related absences amongst students and staff.

The change caught some parents off guard.

“Just a little bit of anxiety,” Erin Shaw, Springfield, the mother of a first-grader and a fourth-grader, said. “Just, we had one day of school and then, you know, trying to figure out what to do next.”

But, it is just the opposite at places like the Pat Jones YMCA, Springfield-Greene County Parks Board SPARC program and Discovery Center.

“I figured, you know, they were going to kick something in gear for us to help us out,” Shaw said.

When moms and dads got the message school would be closed for covid the rest of the week, organizations got ready to welcome the kids.

“A lot of parents don’t have the flexibility in school was canceled,” Kathryn Custer, CEO of Pat Jones Y, said. “They have to go to work. They may not have family that can help with care. So, we want it to be known as that place that parents can count on as a safe and fun environment, that the kids can go and help lessen the disruption for that.”

The school closure came as a surprise for parents. But, it hasn’t been a problem for agencies providing child care opportunities.

“You know, I’d like to say it’s different, but since March of 2020, it’s kind of been the new normal,” Rob Blevins, the executive director of Discovery Center said. “I know people are tired of that phrase. They’re tired of pivoting. So really, what I call it is just the Covid shuffle or responding, responding to your community needs.”

“So, whether it be a snow day or, like now, when they have a canceled school because of Covid, we jump into action so that we have here for kids to be able to come to the Y on those days,” Custer said.

The pandemic and this new normal includes going with the flow, and always expecting the unexpected.

You know, families are struggling financially, they’re struggling mentally, emotionally and their workplaces are struggling to keep staff,” Blevins said. “And, so whatever we can do to help serve the community in this way while taking care of those, those kids, that’s what we want to do.”

Shaw said, “They’re gonna do a little swimming tomorrow. And my older one will get to participate in some virtual like VR stuff. So they have some like VR equipment and different movement things. I know that they are going to have a good time and hopefully go to bed at a decent hour tonight.”

Leaders at the YMCA, Discovery Center, and SPARC programs said they had a lot of kids on board Wednesday, but there are still slots available.

Parents must pre-register their students at the agencies’ respective websites: