San Marcos Creates Learning Hubs Program For Employees
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Photo by Andi Dukleth
As San Marcos City employees got the call to return to work, many parents worried about what they would do with their children who were distance learning at home.
The city decided to step in and help its employees by setting up the “Learning Hub Program” at the San Marcos Senior Center.
There are two classrooms, which together have an average of 18 students that attend daily. Desks are spaced out and aisles are lined with power strips where students can charge the devices they need for online learning.
While there are no on-site teachers, students get assistance from staff with joining their zoom meetings and staying on task.
“The staff that are utilizing the program are eternally grateful and told me how much they appreciate this," said Darren Chamow, program manager for San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department. "A lot of them were in a bind when schools were gonna go virtual.”
The Learning Hubs Program was a big deciding factor on whether Amber Schmaltz would be to return to work.
“This was huge for us and my daughter loves being here, she’s getting all her work done,” she said. "The staff here has been doing a great job. It's been fantastic.”
The students that are a part of the program seem to enjoy it too. Once their virtual school day comes to an end, students are able to partake in recreational activities and socialize with friends, much like a normal school day.
Stella James, a learning hub student, said that's her favorite part of the learning hub.
“I like it here. I get to play in the rec room and I get to go in the playground with the staff," she said. “Sometimes when you’re in music or P.E. you get to go in the computer room.”
The center follows CDC guidelines by checking temperatures before students enter, prohibiting visitors and parents from entering the classroom. They provide hand sanitizer and wipes to students and follow a strict cleaning protocol.
The concept of the program also supports city employees whose regular jobs were put on hold because of COVID-19. They are now able to take on new responsibilities within the learning hubs or assist students. The program also allows for the use of the senior center that was being underutilized due to the pandemic.
Costs for the program have been largely covered by funds available from programs that were canceled due to COVID-19. The program will likely continue to provide support for City staff through the end of 2020 and potentially beyond.
This story was produced with support from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.
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