This year, as many children will be starting the new school year online, their parents are in the unenviable position of having to figure out how to maintain a full-time job while supervising their child’s education. As is often the case when a community faces a problem or unmet need, local churches are stepping up to help. Some churches are even proposing, if kids can’t go back to school in a physical sense, why not send them to church?
“There were a lot of teachers, working families struggling at a two weeks notice to find something for their children,” Theresa Mayo told WAFF 48. Mayo is the children’s minister at Gilliam Springs Baptist Church in Arab, Alabama. The church worked with the school district to come up with a plan to provide supervision and a place to study for children whose parents need to go to work.
Earlier in August, the Arab school district announced that they would be starting the school year with a hybrid online and in-person schedule, allowing for only half of the students to be at the school on any given day. One group of students will attend classes in person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other group will attend Thursday and Friday. Both groups of students will learn remotely on Wednesdays. However, the announcement left little time for parents in the community to figure out how to make it work for their children.
That’s where Gilliam Springs Baptist Church comes in. The church will offer a space for children to learn on the days they are not at school. The church will offer a “Virtual School Assistance” program that can accommodate up to 120 children at a time. Parents can enroll their children for either a Monday/Tuesday session or Thursday/Friday for $50 a week per child.
Gilliam Springs will be providing Virtual School Assistance for the weeks of August 24 and August 31, for K-6th grades….
Mayo said students will be grouped by grade level, sitting six feet apart, and required to wear masks. The church itself isn’t currently holding in-person worship services, but has plans to start meeting again on September 6th. At that point, if everything goes smoothly (IE: barring an outbreak), the school district will have resumed in-person learning for all the students in the district.
Churches Meeting Other Needs in New School Year
Another church, Arab First United Methodist Church (AFUMC), is offering a similar program for students. First United’s program will be for three days a week (either Monday through Wednesday, or Wednesday through Friday) and costs $25 per child per week.
In addition to the virtual school assistance program, AFUMC also delivered care packages to the faculty of the school district to encourage them in a difficult time.