There have been many conversations about school over the past months. In-person, online, hybrid, home-schooling. Truly, how are families to decide what will work best for them? How do you choose between your child’s education and work that provides your housing, food, and healthcare?
At 18 Degrees, we are looking at ways that our staff can support and advocate for families as they navigate remote learning and hybrid models of education. This past week our agency directors collaborated to produce a plan to incorporate supports in the work we are already doing with children and families. These include:
• Establishing a “help-line” for parents to make sure they can access the online learning platforms
• Facilitate “study buddies” with children, volunteers, or interns
• Encourage parents to advocate for their children; and serve as education allies, working with teachers and families so that we can be a bridge for understanding and working through the challenges on both sides to help children be successful.
• Work with parents to establish routines and create an environment for remote learning with realistic expectations of what can be accomplished
• Revamping our school-age program to provide a full-day program to support remote learning
We are excited that we opened our Early Education and Care program for nearly half of the children we cared for prior to Covid-19. To achieve the necessary safety guidelines, we have had to increase our staff to provide greeters that can screen children upon arrival and an additional teacher per classroom to prevent any crossover between classrooms. Each educator must remain solely with their assigned classroom. More personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, cleaning protocols, and rearranging of classrooms have also increased safety measures for our staff and children. We miss our young friends who can’t be with us and continue to be in touch with them and their families, providing fun activities and any support they need.
Our school-age care programs have moved out of the school buildings to our West Street location and will now operate a full-day program to support remote learning. Similar to childcare, our numbers were reduced from 52 to 20 students to maintain safety. However, there is no reducing the energy and creativity our staff has used to prepare to help our children. Our team will work with each student to access their online learning program and offer support to them throughout the day, so parents can continue to provide for their family. Again, we remain in touch with our families, who are not able to attend our modified out-of-school care programs, to give them practical and emotional support and connect them with other community resources to meet their needs.
At 18 Degrees, we see our work as bringing new beginnings to light. We believe in the promise and potential of our children and the capacity we all have to grow and gain new skills. We have another challenging year ahead. We know that working together to promote the well-being and strengths of children, youth, adults, and families, we will continue to build better communities.