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Boys and Girls Clubs of San Antonio set to launch Learning Pods program ahead of school year

The program will provide students with help as virtual learning is expected to continue

SAN ANTONIO – The Boys and Girls Clubs of San Antonio has created a solution for parents searching for a place where their student can learn while most campuses continue virtual learning during the first few weeks of school.

Last month, Metropolitan Health District Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo issued a health directive stating that virtual learning should continue until Sept. 7th.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of San Antonio (BGCSA) will launch a Learning Pod program to help students succeed away from the classroom.

“There is no 100% safe place right now. I mean, we have to be honest with ourselves,” said Renee Garvens, chief development officer of BGCSA.

Garvens said many of the kids struggled with virtual learning and experienced setbacks with their curriculum.

“There were lots of reasons why kids disengaged, none of which is because they didn’t care,” she said.

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BGCSA surveyed its families and learned that 30% of them were not ready to send their students back to the classroom. The survey also revealed that 54% of the students needed a place to learn.

Garven said many of the parents they help work essential jobs and can’t always be home.

“Parents have to work, and we know our low-income families don’t have jobs that can be done from home,” she said.

The pandemic forced the nonprofit to create alternative ways to meet the need of its members. BGCSA will offer low-cost learning pods this fall.

Pods serve as a different learning place and are made up of small groups of students. Parents can hire a teacher or tutor to help the group through their education.

BGSA has hired aides to help students log on to their curriculum and navigate technology problems no matter which district they attend.

The nonprofit believes learning pods should be an option for all families

“It’s not something that we would have ever imagined ourselves doing, but we are committed to doing this for as long as our families need it,” Garvens said.

The facilities will transform spaces into classrooms that will consist of 10 to 12 students. Masks will be required, and temperatures will be checked at the entrance.

Garvens is unsure how long students will be away from the classroom.

“I really do worry about what happens if this continues for months and months and months,” she said.

However, she said BGCSA will help students succeed no matter where they are.

“Our mission is to help them catch up, and we need to rise to the occasion right now,” Garvens said.

The program will launch on Aug. 17, but spaces have already filled up, and there is a waiting list.

Garvens said the nonprofit has plans to increase capacity once it becomes safe to do so.

Woo is expected to release an amended health directive on Friday.

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