COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Students across central Ohio started the year with remote learning and now some are slowly transitioning to a hybrid model, including Columbus City Schools.
But even with a few days in the classroom, parents are still looking for some relief and help for their children, which is where learning extension centers come into play.
There are now nearly 170 different learning center locations across the area that have transformed into miniature classroom settings for students to focus on their work.
“I’m so grateful that they’re doing this,” said grandmother Pat Shaver.
Rock City Church in Hilliard is just one learning extension center location that grandparents, like Pat Shaver, say is a game changer.
“We’re all adjusting to the new normal, so mom’s at home working, grandma is at home working and this allows everybody to continue working,” Shaver said.
It’s been about a month since learning center opened their doors to students in the community. Locations include churches, apartment complexes and office buildings, which have the space to accommodate the students.
Each center is cleaned and disinfected every other day. The workers at the centers also make sure there are a limited number of students per room to ensure social distancing.
“We’ve grown in numbers every day since we started,” said Alexis St. Clair, a learning extension center site leader.
Alexis St. Clair with Rock City Church says these few hours gives students an experience that may be hard to get at home.
“I think the kids get to walk away with learning more and feeling that they’re more empowered to do their work on their own,” St. Clair said.
Zoe Ragin started kindergarten during this very odd time, but her mother, April Ragin, says going there three days a week will make all the difference in the long run.
“That socialization and her being able to get back into some semblance of a school order,” noted Ragin.
For a mom of multiple children, Ragin says that every one of her kids needs special assistance and attention, especially at their age.
“It helps a lot to be able to have Zoe come here and work on something while I’m working with her twin at home,” Ragin said.
Even though they don’t know what a true kindergarten experience looks like, these kids are learning, growing and enjoying the experience they’ve been given.
“A lot of the kindergarteners are just now starting kindergarten here, so they’re looking to this place as a school but we’re just a school supplement,” St. Clair said. “I think they’re learning with us as we go.”
Rock City in Hilliard does have some vacancies but other learning extension centers in Columbus have a waitlist. Rock City learning extension workers said despite a lot of districts moving to a hybrid model, they will continue to help out families until the end of the year.