Just Communities Sets Up Learning Pods to Support Students as Schools Go Remote

Even is socialist, radical Santa Barbara, parents realize distance learning is a fraud, an abuse of students and tax dollars.  To make up for the pretend education by government, parents have set up education POD’s  Sadly, that costs money—so while government teachers are getting fully paid via tax dollars, the parents do not have enough money to get their kids and education.

“The learning pods provide children with face-to-face academic help as well as some social interaction and activities.

At the same time, Patrino said, it gives parents peace of mind because their children are supervised during the day and engaging with online learning.

“(Parents) have to go to work in order to provide food and shelter for the kids,” Patrino said.

The young learners at each site were identified with a referral-based process and word of mouth through Just Communities’ program graduates, who are part of the organization’s network.

The learning spaces are led by adult volunteers who are CPR-certified, trained in first aid and mental health first aid, as well as trained in psychological first aid provided by the Santa Barbara Response Network.

Why are government schools upset wit this?  These teachers do not pay bribes to unions to work.  Unions are killing education in California.  Angry yet?

Just Communities Sets Up Learning Pods to Support Students as Schools Go Remote

The sites in Santa Barbara and Goleta are open four days a week to serve more than 50 students in kindergarten through high school

By Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer, 11/13/20   

Four days a week, small groups of students meet at learning pod sites across Santa Barbara County’s South Coast.

Many school districts continue to use online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the pod sites, adult volunteers help students with their schoolwork.

More than 50 children in kindergarten through high school are attending the in-person learning pods that provide free educational support Mondays through Thursdays.

The groups, which are organized by the nonprofit Just Communities, meet at a dance studio, a church and two parks.

“The learning pods are a place for families from all socioeconomic levels to have a place for their kids during this time of COVID,” Just Communities Executive Director Melissa Patrino said.

She said the learning pods are a way to combat possible COVID-19 pandemic learning loss for school-age children, especially if hiring in-person supervision, such as a nanny, isn’t in many working families’ budgets.

“Parents weren’t prepared for this,” Patrino said. “No one was prepared for this, and for us to provide this free of charge is a success.”

There was a lot of uncertainty before the school year started, and local districts opted to start fall classes remotely. Just Communities responded quickly and launched the learning hubs on Sept. 14.

An anonymous donor contributed funding for the program to run through Nov. 19, and community donors contributed funding and helped provide Internet access for the learning pods to serve students, Patrino said.

“The program is costly to run,” Patrino said. “This is as far as we could stretch the funding.”

The learning pods provide children with face-to-face academic help as well as some social interaction and activities.

At the same time, Patrino said, it gives parents peace of mind because their children are supervised during the day and engaging with online learning.

“(Parents) have to go to work in order to provide food and shelter for the kids,” Patrino said.

The young learners at each site were identified with a referral-based process and word of mouth through Just Communities’ program graduates, who are part of the organization’s network.

The learning spaces are led by adult volunteers who are CPR-certified, trained in first aid and mental health first aid, as well as trained in psychological first aid provided by the Santa Barbara Response Network.

“We took all of the measures to be safe,” Patrino said, adding that the sites are staffed with volunteers who have been fingerprinted and trained on the latest regulations.

Several program leaders are single mothers and UC Santa Barbara students of color with career goals in social work, education and feminist studies.

Launching the in-person learning pods took a community effort, and it was a first for Just Communities, Patrino said.

While the nonprofit organization hasn’t provided much direct service before this year, the organization’s leaders felt the learning spaces stayed true to the mission of dismantling all forms of prejudice, discrimination and oppression, she said. 

“It’s about taking care of our families,” Patrino said. “This is one way to do it.”

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Just Communities at first decided to serve students in kindergarten through fourth grade, but then shifted to K-12 students because of the high suicide rate for students in junior high and high school per statistical output by other local organizations, according to René García Hernández, Just Communities’ director of programs.

“Our seventh- through 12th-graders are going through a lot of emotional needs,” he said. “This was the best way for us to safely and securely get them out of the home and to a better learning environment, but also a more emotionally vibrant and positive environment.”

From 8 a.m. to noon, St. George Community Church and Santa Barbara Dance Arts serve as the site for the indoor, hybrid half-day centers. The completely outdoor pods are located at Santa Barbara’s Elings Park and Goleta’s Girsh Park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Depending on the number of program leaders, groups have a 5-to-1 or 3-to-1 student-to-volunteer ratio for providing highly individualized instruction.

Partners that helped make the spaces happen include United Way of Santa Barbara County, Hospice of Santa Barbara, CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation), the Family Service Agency and Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Alejandra Gutierrez.

Learning pods aren’t just helping people who are most in need, such as English learners, foster youths or vulnerable populations stated by the Local Control Accountability Plan, Hernández said. Among the families are working parents with full-time jobs, nurses and office assistants.

“Just Communities wanted to create an opportunity for all,” Hernández said. “Everyone deserves support during times like this in crisis.”

At Girsh Park, wooden picnic tabletops and a folding table became school desks on a recent Monday morning. A young boy wearing headphones used a laptop at his folding table desk, surrounded by pencils, a binder and other school supplies. He also wore a face shield, and adult volunteers wore face coverings to help prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Inside the park’s Pat O’Malley Fieldhouse and Rotary Community Room, a whiteboard contained the daily schedules for five students. The color-coded list included the times of the bell schedule and Zoom classes.

Girsh Park, at 7050 Phelps Road in Goleta, is volunteering its open space for the program, according to Ryan Harrington, the Foundation for Girsh Park’s executive director. Harrington is a local father of two children at home during the pandemic.

“They are on Zoom,” Harrington said. “Luckily, my organization is flexible with where I can work for the most part.”

Foundation leaders recognized that communities, including working parents, needed help during the pandemic, and they signed on to allow a learning pod to meet at the park, he said.

“I reacted immediately and said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Harrington said. “We are not going to charge anything because it’s the right thing to do. In my mind, this is the most important thing that we can be doing in our community.”

Many working parents in the county are juggling work duties and overseeing their children’s virtual learning.

“I’m seeing many people making the choice of not working, and schooling their children,” Harrington said. “We can only serve a certain amount of kids at a time, and that’s the hardest part. There are many more out there that need this.

“It’s working well, but we need to find a way to serve more kids. All my organization did was provide a space.”

He said the successful setup at Girsh Park is a model for facilitating learning pods in the community and what can be achieved.

“Let’s keep making more of these pods, and serve as many people as we can so that parents can go back to work,” Harrington said.

Santa Barbara County is classified in the red tier of California’s color-coded COVID-19 reopening system, allowing all K-12 schools in the county to reopen for in-person instruction while following public health guidelines.

Public and private schools in Santa Barbara County are tackling a variety of reopening models and schedules, and some districts do not plan to offer in-person classes for students until January. 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. I have a friend who works in that district. He states it is a complete joke, and make work to justify a incompetent board and super. who was hired for politics not sound education.

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