Once a rest spot for skaters in Edgewood Park, Coogin Pavilion on Monday will be New Haven’s first remote learning hub hosted by the city.
“The idea was brought to us by a number of nonprofits in the city who I think very much have played the leadership role,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.
Rev. Steven Cousin, pastor of Bethel AME Church, was praised Thursday at a press conference announcing the city learning hubs. Cousin has been at the front of the effort to shrink the digital divide since hybrid learning was announced in March.
“This is not about us, we should not be getting the credit. It’s really about our kids,” said Cousin. “It’s about the mom working three jobs to put food on the table. It’s that father who may be up at night trying to think about how they’re actually going to pay the bills.”
Cousin helped coordinate a learning hub at First Calvary Baptist Church, where 12 children gather for remote learning.
“I don’t have to sit at home every day, you know, for like hours,” said Alex Turner.
Other churches and non-profits like ConnCAT have offered similar setups since full remote learning began in September. It gives students who may have technology challenges or working parents a reliable space with an adult to guide them through their school day.
“And they’re being nice to us because they’re trying to help us with our math problems and our stuff,” said Jaylen Carter.
“We really want to strengthen children and families’ sense of place, their community, and safety is always our number one priority,” said Gwendolyn Busch Williams, director of the New Haven Youth and Recreation Department.
Starting Monday, the Coogin Pavilion, Barnard Nature Center and Trowbridge Environmental Center will have spots for two cohorts of 10 students each through December 18 to cover when hybrid learning begins in New Haven. Four library hubs are also planned to open soon.
“Our goal is, and we’re working to fund raise for this, to have this funded throughout the entire school year,” said Elicker.
It’s an effort Mayor Elicker says will potentially save some students from losing a year’s worth of learning.