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CoxHealth is temporarily closing its Meyer fitness center to house school children.
Photo provided by CoxHealth
CoxHealth is temporarily closing its Meyer fitness center to house school children.

Updated: CoxHealth to provide school tutoring for employees’ kids

Posted online

Last edited 11:12 a.m., Aug. 6, 2020

CoxHealth on Wednesday afternoon announced it would provide space at The Meyer Center for employees' children to learn when traditional seated instruction isn't available.

The health care system is working with Ozarks Technical Community College and Drury and Evangel universities to tutor K-6 kids, according to a news release. CoxHealth's new service for employees comes as Springfield Public Schools is reopening with either a mix of virtual learning and in-class teaching for children or full-time virtual learning.

CoxHealth spokesperson Kaitlyn McConnell said an internal survey among employees found more than 1,000 children would need some form of child care if local schools weren't in session. The health system currently is expecting 300 children in its program, she said.

“We realize that this is a significant matter for employees, many of whom have school-age children,” says Andy Hedgpeth, vice president of human resources at CoxHealth, in the release. “We greatly appreciate our staff’s dedication and hard work for our patients, so we want to do everything we can to support them during this time and help them stay at work.

"We also amended our remote work policy to allow employees in certain roles to work remotely when faced with child care restrictions due to COVID-19.”

CoxHealth officials have committed to accommodating as many students as necessary and would look to open additional facilities for the program as needed. The Meyer Center will temporarily close as a fitness center to house the school program. McConnell said the center’s employees would be reassigned to other areas in the health system. The center is scheduled to temporarily close starting at the end of business Aug. 12, according to the release. Members will receive refunds or be directed to other gyms operated by CoxHealth Fitness Centers.

Registration for the program is open and runs through Aug. 11, according to the release. Employees will be charged on a sliding scale, based on their pay levels, according to data provided by McConnell. Employees who earn less than $12 per hour would not have to pay for the service, and on the high end, those who make $25 or more per hour would see a maximum daily cost of $35 per child.

CoxHealth is the largest area employer, with 12,393 local employees, according to Springfield Business Journal list research.

The health care system joins other organizations in the community in offering learning support programs in response to the SPS reopening plan. Among them are new private school EnCompass Academy and the Discovery Center of Springfield Inc.

SPS also is facing a lawsuit related to its reopening plan. The suit represented by attorney Kristi Fulnecky alleges the reentry plan harms students and parents and that the district should partially refund property taxes if the reopening initiative is allowed to continue. Legal counsel for SPS called the suit an “unfortunate distraction.”

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Sandra Terrell

I do not work for Cox so this is just a community member observation. Cox should get an award for excellence in leadership for our community as we maneuver this pandemic. And, they should be named employer of the year. I think it is great that they are finding creative ways to keep health services available and taking care of their employees at the same time.

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