NewsEducation / November 20, 2020

Free Sites For Student E-Learning To Open During Marion County School Building Closures

Crossroads AME Church on North College Avenue is one of 22 sites offering e-leaning support for students while Marion County school buildings are closed through mid-January. - Eric Weddle/WFYI News

Crossroads AME Church on North College Avenue is one of 22 sites offering e-leaning support for students while Marion County school buildings are closed through mid-January.

Eric Weddle/WFYI News

Additional daytime learning sites will open later this month for Marion County students whose school buildings are closed until mid-January due to the public health order.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said Friday working families and other caregivers struggling to oversee their children’s virtual learning will now have more options for free care at one of the 22 sites at churches, schools and community centers. Some sites have been open since August.

Hogsett said he understands families are frustrated that school buildings are closed while businesses like bars and restaurants remain open.

“We just simply don’t have the same assistance that we did back in April,” Hogsett said during a press conference Friday. “There is no paycheck protection program. We had individual stimulus checks received by Marion County residents.”

Hogsett said the lack of federal support makes it difficult to lock down the entire city as COVID-19 cases increase. He said the learning sites will provide some relief to working families.

More than 800 seats will be open for Marion County’s K-12 students. The 22 locations include Brookside Community Development Corporation, Christamore House, Finish Line Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis, Hawthorne Community Center and Westside Missionary Baptist Church.

Families can find a learning site at CommunityLearningSites.org. Locations begin to open
Monday Nov. 30 and offer care until January 15. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Site hours will vary by location and some locations may close during winter break.

Facilitators are the locations that will help oversee the students and provide general e-learning support. Capacity is limited at each location in order to follow social distancing guidelines.

The education reform group The Mind Trust provided seed funding in August to open 11 community centers and churches for e-learning for the state of the 2020-21 school year. The nonprofit has spent $485,000 on the initiative so far.

Hogsett said other philanthropic support will be needed if schools remain closed past January due to the pandemic.

Last week the Marion County Public Health Department ordered all public and private K-12 schools in Marion County to close buildings and transition to virtual teaching by Nov. 30 and continue remotely into at least mid-January.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.

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