The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the regular debut of our outdoor activities season. As early as mid-March we had restrictions in Romania and schools were closed all over the country. Since public and private gatherings were forbidden, at first we tried to contact the children that we work with via online methods, using groups on various social platforms. It was a good decent replacement for the activities but we felt the downsides of not having face-to-face contact with the children and also there were still a lot of the children that don’t have access to technology. Considering all these, we decided, as soon as the circulation restrictions loosened a bit, to start preparing printed materials and to reach the communities and the streets to meet the children in our target group. It proved to be a much better solution, especially since we could invite them to come individually to our educational center to still try to have some educational process, but also to discuss the impact of the restrictions on their lives and to see if there was anything that we help with. This approach allowed us to identify the cases that needed intervention urgently and to also keep the children connected to school. We even started collaborating with some of the schools and help them make sure materials they prepared for the children that didn’t have access to technology would reach these children, since schools didn’t have any other means to contact them.
This way we managed to keep the children in contact with education and to prevent them to fail the school year, as some of them had a precarious situation and wouldn’t have passed the year if we hadn’t put them in contact with the schools.
We also reached to rural communities where we work, and there we used a similar approach. After trying, with some degree of success, the digital approach we decided to also take the door-to-door step and to actually meet the children and the families and to provide some minimum supplies (masks and cleaning solution) to make sure they keep safe. We will continue the process throughout the summer and should the restrictions relax even more we will start organizing session in small groups to still bring some games and fun to the children.
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