BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Thanksgiving week has arrived, and starting Monday, kids are off from public school — not just for a few days, but for the whole week.
Confused about what to do? How to entertain them? Where to take them while you go to work? Well, you’re not alone and there are options: businesses and government organizations have stepped up to fill in the gaps, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
Many schools districts in Florida and around the country have extended their Thanksgiving breaks to a full week, citing substitute teacher shortages and staff burnout as the reason behind the closure. Brevard Public School’s joined the fray on Nov. 10, announcing that Space Coast public schools would be also closed all of Thanksgiving week.
School Board members, staff and teachers immediately lauded the extra days off as a much-needed break for students and staff alike. But some parents feared the late decision would make it difficult for them to find childcare. Fear not.
Before asking the board to approve an extended Thanksgiving week, the district reached out to the community to ensure that childcare options were available,
Superintendent Mark Mullins said at the Nov. 10 board meeting that Brevard County Parks and Recreation had expanded a planned fall camp to allow Brevard parents to drop off their children on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at locations throughout the county.
As of Friday afternoon, the Parks and Recreation website showed dozens of slots still available. They have offered discounts to families who might not be able to afford the fee.
The Parks and Recreation camps cost $18.22 per day and $54.66 for the week, according to the Parks and Recreation website, and run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for children in kindergarten through 6th grade.
Mullins said he spoke to local faith leaders who said local faith-based organizations might also be able to help families in need access childcare. And private businesses have also answered the call, offering additional options for Brevard children.
For instance, Let’s Roll Space Coast, a roller skating rink in Titusville, is offering a Thanksgiving break camp from Monday through Wednesday and Friday. Kids age 6 and older can be dropped off beginning 7:30 a.m. and can stay until 6 p.m.
No parents had signed up by Friday afternoon, manager Paula Hiott said, but some parents simply drop off their children the day of. Let’s Roll regularly offers camps during school breaks and during the summer.
Hiott said she’ll be working Thanksgiving week because as a cafeteria worker at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School, her days off align with school holidays.
“I have off during the days that the school has off,” Hiott said. “So I was able to be here for opening for the week for parents that didn’t have any other choice.”
Children who come to camp will receive lunch, a drink and a snack for $35 a day or $135 for the week. Sibling discounts are available.
“I can bring my kids to work,” Hiott said. “They skate with me … as a working mom myself, I completely understand that the short notice of having the days off is definitely a struggle.”