LA GRANDE — A familiar sound is back at La Grande’s Riveria Activity Center — the sound of children at play.

The Riveria, 2609 Second St., is the home of a new child care program being provided by the La Grande Parks and Recreation. The city department set up the program to fill the void from the loss of Kids Club, a day care and education program that operated for 19 years at the center before closing earlier this year because of financial issues. Before that, the Riveria was an elementary school for about nine decades until the La Grande School District closed it in 2001.

McKayla Nitz, the city’s recreation supervisor, said the decision to move forward with child care also stemmed from the response Parks and Recreation received when it conducted a survey asking community members about day care. Nitz said the survey indicated there is a significant need for more daycare services in La Grande.

“We want to bridge this gap,” Nitz said.

The new child care program, which serves children in kindergarten through fifth grade, regardless of where they attend school, started Monday, Aug. 31, to coincide with the start of classes in the La Grande School District. Nitz said this was when parents are accustomed to dropping off their children at school for the day, although this fall the La Grande School District is providing all instruction virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new after school program runs Monday through Friday 1-5 p.m. in a classroom at the Riveria Activity Center. The after-school program is not operating on days when the La Grande schools are not in session. The program cost $60 a week, and Parks and Recreation will adjust that for short school weeks.

Registration is on a week-by-week basis and limited to a 15 children per week because of COVID-19 restrictions. Once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the program’s capacity will expand, Nitz said. Registration for upcoming weeks start on Tuesdays — for the attendance the next week — and concludes on Fridays.

Each day the child care and education program has the following activities: homework help, outside play time, arts and crafts, snacks, Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) activities and a bike and a pedestrian safety session.

To register, visit and scroll down to find the enroll link for “Parks and Rec Extended After School Child Care — Fall 2020.”

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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