Minnesota YMCAs, including Hermantown's Essentia Wellness Center location, will prioritize care for children of emergency workers starting Monday.

"We have a lot of space in that building and a lot of wonderful spaces for kids," local YMCA President and CEO Sara Cole said. "We could serve a large number of youth at that site."

The state of Minnesota is partnering with 38 YMCA locations to help fill a child care gap that's resulted from the closure of public schools to curb the spread of the coronavirus, multiple news releases said Friday. Some school districts had not been able to accommodate the new wave of emergency workers' children and still be open to other school-age children, the governor's office said Friday.

Cole added that the Hermantown facility has the capacity to serve beyond emergency workers and their families.

"I would encourage anybody who needs care to get in touch with us," Cole said.

Parents have already started to register. Families are encouraged to pack lunches. The daily fee in Hermantown will be $39 per day.

“Folks across Minnesota are pulling together to help each other through this pandemic,” Gov. Tim Walz said during a news conference Friday. “I want to thank everyone at the YMCA who is stepping up to ensure the workers on the front lines of this pandemic have access to care for their children.”

The program statewide will be prioritized for children of Tier 2 emergency workers, including educators, grocery store workers, utility workers, essential state and local government staff, and others.

Starting Monday, the YMCA sites will begin providing licensed care from 8:30 a.m. through 5 p.m. weekdays for students over 5 years old. Social distancing and cleaning guidelines recommended by state and federal agencies will be followed.

Working with school districts, the locations will provide access to distance learning and care for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

People can register at ymcamn.org/mnchildcare or by calling 612-230-9622.

This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. March 20 with added comments from Sara Cole. It was originally posted at 4 p.m. March 20.

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