The news that the St. John Fisher College Early Learning Center is closing is not sitting well with some parents.
One Webster woman didn't want to share her name, but has two kids who went to the St. John Fisher College Early Learning Center. The center closed in March during the New York State On Pause order. Just recently announced it is closing its doors for good.
"As a healthcare provider, my job is essential. And I can't go to work unless I have a safe place for my children to be cared for," said the concerned parent.
She is not alone. She says other essential workers utilize the learning center.
"Approximately 40% of the parents that bring their children to the St. John Fisher Early Learning Center are some sort of an essential worker. There are physicians, pharmacists, firefighters, nurses, nurse practitioners," said the concerned parent.
"The St. John Fisher College Early Learning Center has experienced a decline in enrollment and a subsequent reduction in program offerings in recent years,” the college said in a statement. “In summer 2015, due to decreasing interest, the summer program was eliminated. In 2018, when the Town of Pittsford voted for full-day kindergarten, the impact on the Center’s after-school program was significant and resulted in the closure of that program. The Center was closed indefinitely in March when the College announced its transition to online education for the remainder of the spring semester and all residential students moved home. It was also at that time when the faculty and staff began to work from home.
Based on our continuing evaluation, as well as the impacts of COVID-19, the college’s decision to close the Early Learning Center is a permanent one, effective immediately.
We are thankful to all who have entrusted the care of their children to us through the years and hope the timing of this announcement will provide the families of the Early Learning Center students as much time as possible to find an alternate provider for the fall."
Some parents wish they were given the opportunity to keep the center open.
"We were not given the chance to have our tuition raised, which many of us gladly would've done. And we were not given the chance to have any fundraising or donation opportunities and they just abruptly shut our doors," said Kristen Eccleston, a parent who utilizes the center.
There is an online petition that has garnered more than 500 signatures to reopen the learning center. Parents are hoping their voices will be heard.
"To just close the doors and not give us a chance to fight for this is just heartbreaking and we just want a chance to open the doors back up," said Eccleston.