Nova Scotia

YMCA Halifax to offer online learning space as classrooms remain closed

One hundred school-age kids are signed up to do their studies from 2 YMCA locations next week.

Free program running Jan. 10-14 booked up quickly

One hundred students will do their at-home learning from two YMCA locations in downtown Halifax next week. (YMCA Greater Halifax)

One hundred students will do their at-home learning from two YMCA locations in downtown Halifax next week.

A day after the province announced the first week back to school after the holiday break would be done from home, the YMCA of Greater Halifax and Dartmouth launched Y School. The idea is to allow students to do that first week in a more structured environment with food, organized activities and extra help if needed.

"The last time the schools were mandated closed, so were our facilities, so this was a unique opportunity for us to open our facilities up again in a new and relevant way," said Brian Posavad, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Halifax and Dartmouth.

Students across Nova Scotia were expected to return to the classroom on Jan. 10 following an extended holiday break, but the province said Wednesday it would temporarily shift to at-home learning to give schools extra time to upgrade their ventilation systems and secure more masks and rapid tests.

Posavad said staff were inspired to launch Y School after that COVID-19 briefing when Premier Tim Houston spoke about how difficult the decision was to keep students at home for an extra week and noted "the brutal reality is that for some kids, school is the place where they are the safest." The premier added that school is also the place where many students "get their food."

"When we saw Premier Houston talk, it really rang true to the Y," Posavad said.

All spots booked within a day

Hours after the announcement, Posavad said his team got to work creating Y School. It booked up in a day with most of the students between age five and 12. 

The program runs during school hours and, with help from donors, Posavad said students will get a lunch and snacks. There will also be break times with organized activities.

During the school portion of the day, Posavad said YMCA child-care staff and workers will be around to help students out where needed. There are also dozens of Chromebooks on hand if anyone needs them, but the YMCA said students should bring their own laptops if they have one.

Students will be able to work from large tables and extra supplies will be available if needed.

Posavad said the program will follow all COVID-19 protocols. He said part of the reason it came together so quickly is because of the Y's long-established after-school program.

Posavad said he'll been in touch with his fellow YMCA colleagues throughout the province on Friday, and he's hoping others will follow suit with their own Y Schools.

In-class school in Nova Scotia is scheduled to return Jan. 17.



Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.