Boys and Girls Clubs, sites across Shelby County welcoming virtual learning students

Four Boys and Girls Club locations in Memphis are serving nearly 200 students alone with more sites anticipated to open

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Organizations, employers, and churches have all stepped up to help support virtual learning students. While Shelby County Schools students are not reporting to school buildings, many are going to a location out of the home for supervision during virtual learning while their parents are at work.

Four Boys and Girls Club locations in Memphis are serving nearly 200 students alone with more sites anticipated to open.

The Ira Samelson Boys and Girls Club near Berclair expects to be at capacity every school day as parents look for places to safely send their children for virtual learning.

“When we made the announcement that we’d be a virtual learning site, instantly we had parents who signed up,” Club Director Gwendolyn Woods said.

About 40 students, broken up into four rooms and by grade, do their virtual learning inside the club. It and four other clubs are serving children of essential workers ages five to 12.

“We plan to open in the next few weeks two additional sites,” Woods said.

“I think you’ll see these settings pop up all across our county,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said.

Community centers, churches, and workplaces are also opening their doors to virtual learning students. The Shelby County Government Virtual Learning Academy is set up in two county buildings for children of employees.

“Virtual school can work, but the only way it’s going to work is if everyone does their part,” Harris said.

Shelby County Government donated $1 million to the YMCA which is also providing virtual learning child care. The Boys and Girls Club said community donations are crucial, and so was the extension of the state’s Essential Worker Child Care Payment Assistance until the end of the year, to provide the students a quality experience- which includes three meals and a snack a day.

These organizations also rely on community donors. At the start of the pandemic, the bank holding company Truist donated to the Boys and Girls Club.

“The work that the Boys & Girls Club is doing in Memphis has never been more critical in supporting children and teens within our market,” Johnny Moore, Mid-West Tennessee Regional President at Truist, said in an emailed statement. “That is why we’re proud to support the Memphis clubs as part of our larger response to COVID-19 relief needs through our Truist Cares initiative, which included a $2 million donation to the national Boys & Girls Club. Locally, that funding has helped BGCM keep 37 full-time workers employed and provided the necessary resources to serve youth safely amid the closure of schools and other support systems.”

“We plan to do this up until December or if anything changes,” Woods said.

Along with the Ira Samelson Boys and Girls Club, the Oak Haven, Bernal Smith, and Sycamore View locations are also offering the program.

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