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How extracurricular businesses are handling quarantine

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Extracurricular businesses such as American Karate School in Morro Bay (pictured) have had to close their doors during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo by Nathan Moran

Across the county, all nonessential businesses are currently closed, and though it’s difficult, many are trying to remain connected to their communities. 

These include extracurricular businesses. 

For the American Karate School in Morro Bay, this means posting basic lessons and warmups through the school’s Facebook page and holding live broadcasts from the business owner to keep parents and students informed. Usually, this involves receiving input from the parents about what kind of content they’d like to see coming out of the school, and lamenting the fact that the school can’t be open during these difficult times. 

The school has been open since 2004 and teaches students ages three and up. At the moment, there are 50 students who take lessons at the karate studio that are unable to attend for the time being. 

“Normally [during a break] I’m still at the school working, but this is a complete closure to where I’m not even going into the studio,” said Bryan Way, owner of American Karate School. “I miss my students terribly.”

Notices such as these decorate the front doors of many small businesses. Photo by Nathan Moran

Closure of businesses like this has been difficult for parents of children involved too. Many are working to keep kids active and involved while staying safe and at home. 

Central Coast Gymnastics, much like the American Karate School, has been hosting online meetings and posting challenges for students to complete during their time off. They’re also trying to keep clients paying by promising extra services and activity opportunities when classes eventually resume.

“When the gym [Central Coast Gymnastics] opens back up, they will have extra practices that will be free, plus clinics that our kids can do on the weekend,” said Katie Finley, a mother of three girls involved with Central Coast Gymnastics. “This will help offset their missed practices and encourage families to keep paying their monthly dues while the gym is closed.”

The financial future of these businesses is a big concern to their owners and operators at the moment. With so many adults unemployed thanks to the “shelter-at-home” order, business owners are worried parents won’t be able to afford to bring their children back to classes when they resume. 

“We are a client-based business, meaning that they pay us for a service every month and since we’re not providing that service we’re not getting paid for it,” Way said. “However I still have bills to pay, such as rent and utilities for the school.”

If businesses like these are going to survive the quarantine and closure, they likely need support from their communities.

“As small business owners ourselves, we know how hard this time is for everyone,” Finley said. “We have work that is considered essential, and know it’s important for us to keep feeding into the local economy since we still have revenue coming in. We hope to encourage others to look outside of themselves right now and see how they can help those around them.”

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