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Fewer latchkey spots in Wichita this summer, going on a first-come, first-served basis

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Parents who have relied on the summer latchkey program at USD 259 in past years may have to find a new solution for child care this summer. And the parents who do get their children into latchkey will pay more for it.

The spokesperson for Wichita Public Schools (WPS) says there will only be 150 latchkey spots this summer compared to more than a thousand in previous years.

The cost is also going up, from $16 a day last year to $25 a day this year.

There will be 30 latchkey openings at five sites in Wichita: Christa McAuliffe Academy, College Hill, Enterprise, Horace Mann and McCollom Elementary Schools.

Susan Arensman, WPS news and media relations manager, says they have had 19 sites in the past, offering openings for 45 to 120 students, depending on the size of the program.

She said the reduction is because of social distancing limitations and staff limitations.

The 150 spots will be assigned in a first-come, first-served basis. Sign up begins at 8 a.m. Thursday on the school district website: www.usd259.org/summerlatchkey. Once those slots are filled the link that’s on that site will be taken down. Families of students who are accepted will be called to verify enrollment no later than May 26.

“This is very difficult because as everyone knows, requirements change almost daily and so we had to come up with something that we could serve a few families, but we will not be able to serve all the families,” said Arensman.

She said parents and children should not expect the same type of activities either.

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer as much of a robust program as we have in years past,” she said. “We won’t be able to do, go on field trips or other activities of that nature like we have in the past due to all the limitations that we have.”

Arensman says latchkey staff will be wearing masks and will try to keep children separated as much as possible. She said there will also be an increased focus on keeping areas clean.

She said WPS has partnered with Child Start to help parents find other options for elementary children. Contact Child Start at 1-877-678-2548 to get information or go to https://childstart.org/find-child-care/.

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