At the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology in New Haven, some of the regular community programs for school-aged kids are on hold. But a new one this gaining popularity: a learning hub. Sixth through ninth grade students from around New Haven are going to school online, together.
“At home you wouldn’t have as much help as you do here with all the teachers and stuff,” said Devin James, a freshman at Highville Charter School.
The students are in groups of eight, with an aide to help throughout the day. ConnCAT has a max of 32 students, with seven spots still open to those from the Newhallville neighborhood.
“They seem to be really overjoyed. You can see it through their masks,” said Genevive Walker, COO of ConnCAT.
Walker said once COVID-19 shutdown the state, the organization had to recreate its services to also meet the community’s educational needs. A community, she added, that includes underserved people from communities of color.
“That’s the population we’re serving. People that really have the financial need and don’t have the resources to create their own learning pod or stay home,” said Walker.
Some feared online learning could cause a disparity in education. Here, they’re working against it.
“I can’t, like, procrastinate on my work because they make sure I do my work,” said Lindell Jaynes Jr., a student at Engineering & Science University Magnet School.
And in the age of COVID-19, students said they feel safe being around others.
“Hundred percent safe,” said James. “They’re on us about our masks here, keeping our masks up and all that.”
There are social distance markers throughout the building, students are seated apart, and eight students can eat breakfast and lunch here, served from ConnCAT’s culinary program at orchid café.
“It feels good getting used to something we’re not used to,” said James.
After the first 10 weeks online, the pod will continue as long as remote learning is an option.
“We paused for a moment with the rest of the world and I think it’s time for those that are innovators to come up with new ways of doing things,” said Walker.