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Scannelli column: Scrambling…

By Sandi Scannelli
For the Clemmons Courier

Yes, the last several weeks have been a scramble for many working families now faced with a continuation of remote learning. Anticipating this next chapter of the pandemic’s impact, the Clemmons Community Foundation has been working with the Interfaith Alliance of Clemmons and Lewisville over the past six weeks or so to identify locations and organizations willing to host students so that parents can work outside the home. After all, children cannot be left home alone and parents need to work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

The good news is that there are now local options, thanks to several faith and other organizational leaders who have stepped in with their facilities and programs to address the issue.

Huge kudos to Rev. Dr. Howell, leader of the alliance, who has been tirelessly reaching out to faith leaders to explore possibilities and learn of their plans.

Kudos also to organizations that are pivoting to address the gap and expand services, namely Imprints Cares, the Jerry Long YMCA, Camp Merriwood and First Baptist Church Clemmons. There are others working through their channels to see what may be feasible. We’ve posted the local options available on our web site at https://ccf.gives/schoolsupport. If you know of others that we can post, please contact Mark Batten at 336-403-0433. Important to know, creating such options is not simply a matter of opening doors.

Every organization must think about public health guidelines and the safety of children and staff as well as technical capabilities so that students can connect to their public school’s remote classes. But working in partnership with others can remedy these challenges.

Want to help? With school starting Aug 17, there are several urgent needs.

• Additional staff/teachers/volunteers. Some of the programs are limited in their capacity due to the need for additional personnel. More student seats would be available with more help.

• Physical space. There are competent, turn-key programs that could start tomorrow, if they had a facility. To keep the cost of services as low as possible for families, they need space at no cost. Several programs will take care of the disinfecting, insurance, and other needs. They just need space.

• Programs for teenagers. The Jerry Long YMCA is one of few that has capacity to serve high school students. We’re thrilled that they are serving this population, but they do not have the capacity to handle all the students needing a place to learn from WFHS.

• Funding for student scholarships. The programs available are not free. There is a weekly cost and many families cannot afford another $200 a week (roughly) for each child to attend a remote class. Most programs would love to be able to enroll students at lowered rates based on family income, but due to the impact of the pandemic over the last several months, they have little to no reserve funding to offer rate reductions. If you are a Jerry Long YMCA member, consider continuing to pay your membership dues in support of their pivot to student e-learning programs so that they can offer enrollment scholarships.

• School supplies — remote learning still requires supplies. New on the list are ear buds. Can you imagine a room of students all logged into different classes without ear buds?

It’s going to be a difficult semester — maybe longer — for many of our students. It’s a time for the community to rally and each of us to figure out how we can help. Perhaps you have your hands full figuring this out in your own family. We hope this column helps. If your kids are grown and you are not facing these challenges, consider helping families that are scrambling. There’s plenty of need right here in our communities. Join us in this effort. Call us. Or call one of the programs on our web site to see how you can help. Let’s make sure our kids get through this in the best way feasible and still find great joy and support in learning.  

Sandi Scannelli is president and CEO of the Clemmons Community Foundation.