OnTRAC Learning Center a safe place for children during pandemic
Amy Walters said the preschool teachers and other staff stepped up to do what was needed during the pandemic and readily adapted to change.
Editor's note: This story is advertorial content that is part of the 2021 "Essential to Jamestown" special edition of The Jamestown Sun. The annual Progress Edition features stories on essential workers, agencies and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
OnTRAC Learning Center filled a critical need in the community during the coronavirus pandemic, said Amy Walters, facility manager for Two Rivers Activity Center.
“We continued to provide care for our preschool children and others throughout the entire time,” she said.
OnTRAC offers child care for up to 30 children age 3 through 5. The preschool teachers are Teagan Skunburg, ShawnDell Gudmestad and Holly Lee. Their classroom aides are Julie Crabtree and Brielle Riedinger.
Walters said the preschool teachers and other staff stepped up to do what was needed during the pandemic and readily adapted to change.
When schools closed, OnTRAC provided a place for other children age 10 and younger who couldn’t be left at home, Walters said. OnTRAC partnered with the Jamestown Public School District to get Chromebooks and helped those children with their homework and to participate in classes through Zoom, she said.
OnTRAC received a Childcare Emergency Operations Grant through the North Dakota Department of Human Services to provide care for more children whose parents were essential workers, Walters said.
“Throughout the whole time frame, we had to modify our practices here to comply with state licensing guidelines and so we had to adjust group sizes, daily routines, implement health monitoring, change the way we do lunch, the way we used the building,” Walters said.
Tammy Mewes, OnTRAC Learning Center director, credited the maintenance staff with keeping the facility clean and sanitized daily.
The families of the children they served were also supportive of the staff, Walters said.
Mewes noted OnTRAC was a consistent place for the children during a time of uncertainty.
“There’s a lot in the news that kids hear and overhear and so to have that safe space for them to come to and know they’re OK” takes some of that anxiety and fear away, she said. They provided extra lessons related to being healthy such as hand washing and people’s “space,” Mewes said. They are also focusing on social skills because that’s been impacted also, she said.
“You really want to focus on just a well-rounded program that offers a little bit in all areas so that they’re balanced and ready for all those elements that are going to be coming at them later in life,” Mewes said.
Walters said those things speak to the role of a preschool teacher impacting all aspects of a child’s life, not just teaching the ABCs.
“We’re trying to help them create that foundation of how they manage their emotions and their own behaviors in groups of other children so that when they get to school they’re ready for the learning,” she said.