Month: April 2020

Afterschool programs are stepping in to innovate and find new ways to support their communities and students. A high number of programs are serving youth remotely or finding alternative ways to stay connected to youth. Some sites are serving as a meals site or otherwise distributing resources to families, and some are providing care for the children of essential workers.

By Sky Carroll
I have come to find a new normal. Every morning, I open my curtains and windows and do “Yoga With Adriene” on YouTube. Then I drink a cup of coffee, sit by the window in my newly rearranged room and listen to the birds. I spend the middle of my days cleaning, reading Pride and Prejudice, throwing a lacrosse ball and doing schoolwork. I take my dog, Blu, for a walk, and I end most days by calling or FaceTiming a few friends. Finding new purpose and taking time to do things I enjoy has helped me cope with, even enjoy, being forced to stay at home.

Setting up distance learning for the 55 million students who were forced out of school by the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge. It is even more of a challenge for educators to figure out how best to educate the 7 million students with disabilities, as well as those students who are less likely to be able to access online education. These students are at much greater risk of falling behind.

About 9 out of 10 students are out of school worldwide right now, writes Anya Kamenetz for NPR—a global school shutdown on an unprecedented scale. While no historical event is identical to the coronavirus pandemic, Kamenetz spoke with experts in the field of “education emergencies,” probing for lessons learned in regions that experienced extended school closures due to humanitarian crises such as Hurricane Katrina, the Rwandan genocide, or Ebola in West Africa.

The Pennsylvania School-Age Child Care Alliance (PENN SACCA) is seeking to understand the current situation of school-age programs. They are asking programs to complete a brief survey so they can identify ways to support programs in the months ahead.

On April 16, Governor Tom Wolf announced that the Department of Human Services (DHS) will begin emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit issuance. Payments include a supplemental increase for March and April and will continue to be issued for current SNAP households through April 29. DHS is advising Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance of local supports that can help meet essential needs during the public health crisis.

Since 2000, federal investment in afterschool and summer learning programs has nearly tripled. The Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which provides afterschool and summer learning opportunities in all 50 states, has grown from just over $450 million in 2000 to $1.25 billion in the most recent budget passed by Congress. Serving approximately 400,000 kids in 2000, today, serving more than 1.7 million students and families.

The digital divide is real. In many districts, the rush to build a remote learning plan began the old-fashioned way, with paper packets — enough to tide kids over while school leaders take stock. Namely, can they provide hardware and WiFi access to every student who needs it? The answer for many school leaders has been a dispiriting no.

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