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Forsyth County YMCA closed to public but open to provide child care for health workers

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The Forsyth County YMCA won’t be open to the public for the foreseeable future, but it will still serve a purpose by providing child care for health workers during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

On Friday, March 20, locations across metro Atlanta, including the one in Vickery Village, started serving as childcare centers for medical workers at Atlanta area hospitals, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Eastside Medical Center, Emory, Georgia Highlands, Intown Pediatric, Northside, Piedmont, WellStar, and Yerkes-Emory. 

More YMCA locations will be turned into child care centers for medical personnel by March 27, the organization said.

“Closing our facilities doesn’t mean we’ve ‘closed shop,’” said Lauren Koontz, CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. “Just the opposite. In many ways this is our moment to truly deliver on our promise of service to those who turn to us for community and to those who turn to us for survival.”

Koontz had announced Tuesday, March 17, that all locations will be closed until “the health and safety of our community can be assured.”

Now, the YMCAs-turned-child care centers are operating from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and staffed by Y employees, according to a spokesperson.

Food and drinks will be available to children, and some locations are offering meals, though Forsyth County’s is not currently.

“Our medical professionals are on the front lines of combatting COVID-19, and child care is a major concern for them and their families,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement. “The Y has always responded to the needs of our community. [Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning] Commissioner [Amy] Jacobs and I applaud their initiative to pivot and work to provide these critical programs for our state’s children and their families so our first responders can continue to care for patients across Georgia.”