Learning pods aim to help students during COVID-19 pandemic

VIDEO: Learning pods aim to help students during COVID-19 pandemic

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Social Services has issued 138 temporary certificates for child-care centers since August, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary licensed centers, which offer school time care or virtual care, were launched to combat long-term school closures and the shift to virtual instruction. These facilities are sometimes referred to as pandemic learning pods.

In Summerville, Raleigh Minning says she has opened the first pandemic pod in the area to give families a choice.

“I was a certified teacher for 7 years and I actually had to retire because I had stage 3 cancer,” Minning said. “During the pandemic I saw the outcry of families needing help and I said let’s open up a virtual learning center.”

The newly formed center, Lesson Up, currently serves 15 students but can fit up to 35. The idea is for students to have a space for virtual or e-learning, while also receiving face-to-face help from certified teachers.

“We do have those students who are at home they are alone, and they don’t have anybody there to help them,” Minning said. “Their parents are at work, so they need a place like this to help them stay on task. They are failing because they are at home alone, some of them are even taking care of their younger siblings.”

For Mary Ann Hartzell, a grandparent to one of the students at the center, having this option means a lot less stress on families.

“When we decided to do the virtual academy, we were going to homeschool them and that got to be difficult because I would sit between two boys and try to help both, and my daughter works,” Hartzell said. “Here, the grades are coming up slowly and I just feel like it’s a safe environment.”

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