JONESBORO, AR(KAIT) – Many students are giving thanks this week because they have the entireweek off school for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Some of their parents,however, are wondering what to do with their children because they still haveto work.
The Valley ViewSchool District has heard those concerns and has offered some help to workingparents.
Teachers have made thedistrict's Excel After School Program available to students basicallyyear-round. They have reopened the elementary school until Wednesday, allowing parentsto send almost 50 kids this year to a safe, secure place while they're at work.
"Parents wouldalways love to be off every time their children are off," Christy Nelson, apre-K teacher, said, "but that's just not possible."
When Valley Viewstarted the Excel program three years ago, teachers like Nelson have opted tomake some more money during the holidays and keep kids that have nowhere elseto go.
"I think that's abig relief for [parents] to know that when they do have to work, and they can'ttake off with their children like they would love to, that someone that doeslove their children and cares about them is there for them," Nelson said. "Ithink that's a good relief for them."
The after school program normally offers students academichelp through tutoring and other academic enrichment, but the activities plannedthis week are all focused on fun.
"We've been playing games. We go to the computer lab, andthey'll get to watch a movie," said Joyce Philamlee, a pre-K teacher. "We werehoping it would be nice where they could play outside, but it didn't cooperate."
"I was fortunate enough that I had family that lived herethat could take care of [my children]," Nelson said, "but a lot of people arenot that fortunate and they need that extra care for their children."
Valley View extends its after school program through otherholiday breaks as well. In addition to Thanksgiving, parents can drop off theirkids during certain times at Christmas and spring breaks.
"That's what Excel is all about," Nelson said, "trying tooffer a home away from home for those children."