GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast haven’t missed a beat during the summer, but with COVID-19, the start of school means the end of the traditional after-school program.
“It just would not be in the best interest of the children or our community for us to open, and while kids had been social distancing as best they could at the schools, then they would mix on a bus to come into the club,” said Keva Scott with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast. “It was one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make.”
As a way to serve some of the children, each of the six units will now become a virtual education hub only for the children of those parents who choose the distance learning option but can’t be at home to oversee the process.
“So, the benefit of the program is that your children are at the same location all day,” she said. “Like, there’s no travel on buses, there’s no mixing the hall.”
It’s a process that officials said has been well thought out.
“We’ve been working close with the districts as well to get schedules for children so that we make sure that what they’re doing inside of the school is mirrored when they come inside of the Boys & Girls Club,” Scott said.
Once classes are over, students move back into the normal Boys & Girls programs.
Drapundra Anderson, who works in the Harrison County School District, will be one of the staffers helping.
“It’ll give the kids a way to ask questions if they have them, and we can connect with teachers and get emails and give them ways to connect with teachers and they can correspond that way,” she said.
This offering is something that Forest Heights unit director Kris Riley said could be the new future.
“In today’s time, I think we’re moving more virtual anyway, so this might be the way it is - the new normal,” he said. “So, we’ll be equipped to help and serve the community and adjust accordingly.”
Scott said a new funding source has helped trim the monthly cost to $100 per student.
Right now, she said about 100 students have been signed up.
For more details and to register, go to https://www.bgcgulfcoast.org/