GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As a consolation for parents irritated with Grand Rapids Public Schools for pushing the start date of one elementary school, the district is offering free passes to local recreation centers this week.

Grand Rapids Public Schools has announced it is partnering with the Salvation Army Kroc Center and the David D. Hunting YMCA to give free day passes to students of Grand Rapids Montessori Elementary School.

The school was set to begin classes Tuesday but that date was pushed back to at least next Monday, Aug. 28 because of construction delays and illness among workers in the building.

“We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are certainly not sorry that we are putting safety first,” says Hendrix. 

Through Friday, parents and students of GR Montessori Elementary can use a free day pass to the Salvation Army Kroc Center of Grand Rapids, located at 2500 S. Division Avenue in Grand Rapids from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. They can also choose to use a free guest/family pass at the David D. Hunting YMCA, located at 475 Lake Michigan Drive NW in Grand Rapids from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“Grand Rapids Public Schools reached out to us as our community partner and asked if we can step in and help the families of the Montessori that will be displaced because of the delay in the start of their school year,” says Major Carol Huffman, senior Kroc officer at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Center.

The Kroc Center provides activities and classes for people of all ages. 

“We have the gymnasium which you can see which is very busy as you can see behind me, we have an aquatic center, we have a fitness program,” says Huffman. 

At each location, a parent or caregiver will need to stay with children. Check in at reception and let them know your child is actively enrolled in Grand Rapids Montessori Elementary School. Families will need to check the website and make sure to check the schedule to sign up for programs, classes, and activities. 

“Then they know what time to come and what they might be able to be a part of here at the Kroc Center and we are really excited that we will be able to help them during this time,” said Huffman. “A member from our team will greet the families as they come in and show them what is available in our building at that time.”

The free passes come after the district faced scrutiny from parents at the GRPS board meeting Monday night. Commenters mentioned health and air quality concerns, a lack of equity considerations for families who don’t have access to babysitters and those who rely on school lunch.

Some worried that the district did not have adequate plans if it was too hot for kids to be at school. With 90-degree days forecasted for the week, GRPS said its plan was to keep an eye on temperatures and choose to close schools if needed.

“The burden should not be placed on our households and our work places to shoulder,” said one GRPS parent.

Parents like Jordan Hemm say GRPS should provide a safe space for students during the day.

“The adults can attend to their other activities in which we were counting on you,” said Hemm. “It would be deeply disappointing to me that our kids would be asked to stay home indefinitely.”