BOSTON (CBS) – As Boston public schools continue to grapple with all-remote or hybrid learning in the fall, a city councilor and a group of educators have come up with the idea of a “learning pod” to help students with their studies in a safe and supportive environment.
Four rooms inside the Lena Park Community Center in Dorchester will serve as the pods where students will do remote learning with their school while facilitators will be there to help them with their studies. They’ll be supplied with Chromebooks and have complete Internet access, which was an issue for some students when schools went completely online amid the pandemic.
“There hasn’t, thus far, been safe options or other opportunities explored,” said Sharita Fauche, one of the learning pod directors.
It’s a small start, with 20 students from grades two through eight already signed up to attend, and the directors say that is the largest number that can be accommodated at this time. The students will be grouped in the four pods by grade, learning together and not alone.
“We’ll be able to look at a student’s individual need but also work closely with their school, achieving the goals set forth by the school if not exceeding them,” said Ivanna Solano, also a learning pod director.
Parent Tiffany Vassell, a nurse on the overnight shift, said keeping tabs on her daughter Amelia’s remote schoolwork hasn’t been easy. The pod not only helps her plan for the fall but makes her more comfortable, concerned that school buildings will not be safe enough for students and staff. “I think it’s going to be comforting to have her in a safe environment, around other kids and getting back to learning,” said Vassell.
The students will be socially distanced and follow safety protocols. It’s the brainchild of City Councilor Julia Mejia who obtained a non-profit grant to make the pods happen. Mejia said she believes it is time to get creative with learning.
“I think what makes it unique is that young people will have a space and have some sense of normalcy during this time,” said Mejia. She hopes the learning pod space will help fill a void and also serve as a model to create other pods throughout the city.