COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is repurposing its community centers to support students during an unusual school year.
Monday, staff and volunteers at the Douglas Community Center were rearranging tables and chairs and thoroughly sanitizing surfaces to accommodate Active Learning Sites.
The initiative is a result of a partnership between Rec and Parks and Columbus City Schools to help students with distance learning.
“It’s about the kids and the community, so whatever we’ve got to do to continue to make that happen… that’s what we’re doing,” said Rec Center Manager Manney Clarke.
Clarke explained exact plans were just recently put into motion. At Douglas Community Center, pre-registered students will be separated based on age into groups of 8 with 2 supervising volunteers from CityYear Columbus AmeriCorps. The volunteers will facilitate online learning in socially distant workspaces, with remote supervision of students’ computer activity.
“We’re helping out with the accountability for the schools… because just imagine the kids staying at home and they have to try to figure out focusing on that computer all day and they don’t have any outlet. We are the outlet,” Clarke said.
The facility will accommodate a morning and afternoon cohort, providing snacks and breakfast or lunch, respectively. Rec and Parks Department staff will be responsible for leading breaks for physical activity.
“It’s to give them a break so they can continue to focus when they get back in the classroom,” explained Clarke.
He said the rec center values an already solid working relationship with nearby schools and other community partners in the South Linden neighborhood.
Prior to the pandemic, the groups would work together to meet families’ physical, social and emotional needs. When the health crisis presented additional challenges, Clarke explained there was no hesitation to adapt and make sure young people had a safe, structured outlet.
“COVID just changed some things to where there’s a lot more paperwork to come into our doors, but for the most part we have our hands reached out and we’re trying to pull them in,” he said.
Students must register before attending one of the Active Learning Sites and Clarke expects Douglas Community Center may reach capacity during the first week. You can check availability and register your student by clicking here and searching for your nearest community center.
Find a full list of learning extension centers associated with Columbus City Schools here.