Distance Learning Center planning for January relaunch
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday
Closed Dec. 21 to Jan. 1, reopening Jan. 4
FOR MORE INFO ON YOUTH HUB ACTIVITIES/NEO
CONTACT BRIGHT FUTURES FOR YOUTH
The Distance Learning Center and Youth Hub, run by local nonprofit Bright Futures for Youth, is preparing for a “relaunch” in January, said Bright Futures for Youth Executive Director Jennifer Singer.
The center, which operates at the Nevada County Fairgrounds’ Main Street Center, opened in late October after county supervisors approved $450,000 in funding in order to lease the space through June 2021.
The center began a two-week winter break alongside most local schools Dec. 21, and will reopen Monday, Jan. 4.
Singer described the center so far as a “Distance Learning Center by day, New Events & Opportunities activities center by late afternoon.”
The center has been operating as a supervised setting for students to access an internet connection, facilitating online classes, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Later in the day, said Singer, the “youth hub” has hosted social and educational events for small groups and held activities including music and art workshops, .
Singer said, on an average day, between 10 and 15 students have been served at the Distance Learning Center, and that most of these students — primarily in high school or middle school — settle in for the whole day once they are dropped off.
She said the center is considering shifting to staying open later as they’ve observed this could be more convenient for students’ families as they coordinate pick-ups.
“Everyone, of course, has a different need or circumstance, so we’re trying to find the best for the most,” said Singer.
A key challenge Bright Futures for Youth staff have identified in interested or served students and families has been transportation, which would be facilitated for many students by their school districts if on-campus instruction were in session, but is a more open question for the center amid distance learning.
“The rural nature of our community just continues to present these kinds of challenges,” said Singer, explaining that coordinating transportation for students is especially difficult taking into account recommended vehicle capacity and other precautions due to the pandemic.
She said the nonprofit will continue its outreach to local schools, which so far has happened primarily at the district level, and are taking this “quiet time” while the center is closed to survey families’ needs and prepare for next year.
“We really wanted to feel it out in the fall and see if we needed to be promoting it more widely,” said Singer, adding that the season presented some difficulties — a start postponed by a power shut-off, and multiple holidays, for example.
“January kicks off a more steady few months of school, so I think people are more likely to settle in and we can work on transportation plans, if that continues to be a need,” she said.
There is still room for more students to be served by the Distance Learning Center, which has over 30 work stations set up.
Singer said she hopes local families who may be interested in the center’s services but have concerns or difficulties, including transportation, reach out to Bright Futures for Youth staff.
“We’re trying our best to deal with everyone’s individual needs as much as possible,” she said.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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