After School Programs During COVID 19 - Heroes for the Community


During the early days of the pandemic, after school care programs continued the learning and caring the best they could.  

Most childcare centers closed during COVID-19. Those that stayed open or reopened quickly kept serving children and youth and continued to prove their value to communities. 

Earning the Hero Badge 

After-school program staff widely were recognized as ‘heroes’ by parents who needed normalcy during the pandemic.    

Through everything, directors and staff still came to work, knowing they could be putting themselves or their families at risk for contracting COVID-19. Staff could never know who would follow the health protocols, whether every runny nose or cough was a prelude to something more serious.  

A survey of after-school programs by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) outlined how the staff went the extra mile while experiencing many changes in services: 

  • Working additional hours to serve meals or connect families to services 
  • The amount of cleaning doubled or even tripled with constant disinfecting and sanitizing 
  • Workers also spent time devising ways that youth could connect remotely 
  • Drop-off/pick-up policies changed, so parents didn’t have to enter the building. 

Logistical Challenges Solved  

As parents head back to work, after-school programs enrollment is bouncing back to pre-COVID levels. Summer camps, too, are in full swing in most states.   

The pandemic era is in decline, but the logistics of running an enrichment center are still there. Some of the processes put in place during COVID may stay, and directors will need help with reporting and attendance tracking. Financial relief is available to help the business of childcare run smoothly again. Technology is an allowable use within the federal and state grant programs. 

AfterSchool21 supports childcare workers and after-school programs with cloud-based software that minimizes data entry and provides many reports for program analysis. AS21 also solves many practical challenges such as:  

  • Automated reporting for attendance and participation  
  • Parent communication   
  • Touchless drop off/pick up process   

AS21 has the most experience of any software system in transferring mandated reporting data to the 21APR online system. With less manual workaround reporting, program directors can spend more time welcoming their families back. 

Contact a team member to learn more about how AS21 is unique to any program, regardless of size or scope. 

About The Author

Alyssa Thornley has spent her career working to support schools and communities in providing opportunity to all students. In positions as a teacher, professional development coordinator, and as a volunteer, she has focused on the community’s role in education, and in designing efficient programs that work for diverse needs. Alyssa leads TransACT’s customer engagement and market strategy efforts, and works to ensure innovative programs, guidance, and thought leadership from across the country’s districts are being shared and spread.