Sponsored Learning Hubs Provide Safe, Healthy Routines for Students During COVID-19

Sponsored Learning Hubs Provide Safe, Healthy Routines for Students During COVID-19
Posted on 03/15/2021

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., March 15, 2021 ­– Recognizing the challenges families are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) partnered with childcare centers and non-profit organizations across the county to provide Learning Hubs for students primarily in Transitional Kindergarten through 5th grade.

 With a $2 million investment for the 2020-21 school year, CCCOE-sponsored Learning Hubs are serving more than 250 students in 17 locations across the county. The organizations offering learning hubs include YMCA of the East Bay, the cities of Richmond and Oakley, the housing authorities in Pittsburg and Rodeo, the Learning Center in Pittsburg, STAND! Transitional Housing, in Concord, The Growing Room and Kid’s Country in Danville, and Bright Futures in Richmond.

The partnership between the Contra Costa County Office of Education and community-based organizations showcases how Learning Hubs have been a vital resource to communities during this life-changing time and for parents who are essential workers.

“During this pandemic, Learning Hubs have become a model that promotes the achievement of educational and developmental milestones,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “They are a safe place for students who might need additional support during distance learning. We see the value of our community partnerships and investments to get us through this difficult time and beyond.”

Bright Futures, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit growth and development center in Richmond serving students from pre-kindergarten through young adulthood over the past 21 years, quickly mobilized when the pandemic hit. They jumped into action, knowing the community they served needed the Learning Hub even more.

 “We went immediately into solution mode,” Bright Futures Executive Director Ivy Winston said. “We were provided with air purifiers and we were able to put procedures into place to operate and function in the safest way that we can. We opened for parents who were essential workers. We trained parents on safe practices away from the center and trained staff on safe practices while here.”

Open during the school day and after-school hours, Learning Hubs provide students with academic and technology support, social-emotional learning, STEM learning activities, team-building, and daily health screenings. To ensure safety during the current pandemic, the Learning Hubs implement intense safety protocols.

Students attending Learning Hubs have access to socially-distanced activities and support. Bright Futures provides educational assistance for students participating in Distance Learning, and they also ensure students are being nurtured socio-emotionally. Ivy Winston has noticed a change in the students’ attitudes over time.

“Kids now have yard time,” Winston said. “They interact with each other but keep their distance. When they eat outdoors, they split tables and are faced apart, but can still laugh and joke and talk with each other. Their mindset has absolutely turned around. Even during music and dance on socially distanced markers and with masks on, there’s ways that you can redirect the mindset.”

Sharrone Baugh is a parent of children who attend Bright Futures now and attended prior to the pandemic. Baugh and her husband are essential workers who needed a solution to help their children with distance learning when they both returned to work.

“I knew they would ensure that the staff were well-trained and extremely cognizant of the new way of doing things as far as managing children, social distancing, ensuring people keep their hands clean, make sure they’re wearing their PPE, as well as supporting them with logging into class on time, providing assistance with classwork, and giving them socialization, which is also really needed,” Baugh said. “Knowing they were going to cover all of those areas, I felt confident that my children would be safe there.”

While many school districts are planning to return to some form of in-person instruction over the next few weeks, there will still be a role for the Learning Hubs through the end of the school year and summer, Mackey said.

“The success and perseverance of our Learning Hubs has led to a model for reopening on a larger scale,” Mackey said. “We look forward to continued partnerships throughout the county with our community members and families as we work to reopen safe education facilities and schools.”

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