Salvation Army welcomes kids back to after school program

Students in the Salvation Army of Muscatine County sit six feet apart as they play with their individual Lego sets. The Salvation Army has put a number of procedures in place to allow the program to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–As students get in to the routine of a new school year, the Salvation Army of Muscatine County looks forward to welcoming them back to their after school program. Youth Specialist Mary Darnell relishes offering area children the program’s core blend of academic support and fun with additional safety measures to offer peace of mind during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each day after school from 3 to 5 p.m. (or 1 to 5 p.m. on early out days), students in kindergarten through sixth grade come to the Salvation Army of Muscatine County at 1000 Oregon Street, Muscatine to participate in a variety of activities. For kids in need of transportation, the Salvation Army works with Franklin Elementary School to provide busing.

Once students arrive, they start out with time to complete any homework. If students have no homework or finish quickly, they also engage in other learning activities to build their reading, spelling, and math skills. The program also provides recreational activities for the kids, including making crafts, spending time outside, and playing games. Each child in the program also receives a snack.

In order for students to safely participate in the Salvation Army’s after school program, Darnell has added several public health measures. These include taking kids’ temperatures when they arrive; wearing face masks; social distancing; using a face shield while eating snacks; and having individual sets of school supplies, tissues, hand sanitizer, and Legos for each student, which they will keep in their own cubbies and have cleaned nightly. Darnell thanks K & M Design and Kiley Krogman for their generous donations of face shields and masks respectively. These donations allow each student access to this personal protective equipment for free.

With school back in session, Darnell feels glad that the Salvation of Muscatine County can once again offer this service to students and their families. “We are thankful for all the support that we can offer this program for free to our community,” she said.

If you would like to enroll your child in the Salvation Army’s free after school program, Darnell encourages you to come to their office and fill out an application. If you have questions you would like answered before you come in person, Darnell encourages you to call the Salvation Army at 563-263-8272 and to ask for her.

Returning to school can create stress for families, especially during the pandemic. The Salvation Army hopes that their after school program will help provide needed support for students and parents this year.