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Academic support day camps offer space and supervision for virtual learners

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 7:03 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As kids head back to school virtually, working parents are faced with a tough situation balancing work with new school schedules. Some local businesses are adjusting their plans to help bridge the gap.

“We already have a summer camp. It’s been very successful for us, and right now, we’re basically transitioning that into a school camp or a school workshop camp that allows people two things--safety, movement,” said Leon Reynolds, owner of Alaska Athletics.

Alaska Athletics is a cheer and ninja gym in Anchorage that just wrapped up summer camp activities, and is shifting focus to provide academic support. For a monthly or weekly cost, they’ll be offering daily on-site supervision, activities and structured physical education while parents work.

“That’s the struggle for parents who are working. They work all day. Their kids are at home. They’re wondering what’s happening. They get home late at night. Sometimes the work doesn’t get done,” said Reynolds. “Maybe we as parents have problems with seventh-grade math at times which is a real thing. If we can help that side of the equation and add in what we already know we do very well here in the gym. I think it can be a winning combination for everybody.”

It’s one of the reasons working mom of three, Jenny Dickinson, is sending her students to a similar program at Anchorage wrestling gym, Next Level AK.

"The biggest thing that we had as a hurdle was what we were going to do with them all day, so Next Level has provided a safe environment for them to learn in, to get active," said Dickinson. "The Fortnite all day is not happening, so we're pretty excited about that, and we'll just kind of do what we can as we go."

Next Level AK is also preparing to offer a similar support camp where kids will work independently with supervision and the added physical activity to their day.

“As a coach, I 100% believe that kids should be active, they should be doing something,” said Nathan Hoffer, Co-owner of Next Level AK. “I don’t know what I’d be doing if I was cooped up during this time, but being active is important.”

Another business that's used to hosting kids--Carousel Childcare Center. The daycare is also preparing to host virtual learners. Co-owner, Sean Shawcross, says the center is looking to hire retired teachers to serve as tutors.

“We’re also looking to expand our internet downstairs so it’s a little bit faster so we have the ability to help everyone that needs it, because we could possibly have 20 or 20 school-agers all being online at the same time, so we’re going to need to run some speed I would guess,” said Shawcross.

The goal is to help working parents while offering a school away from home to learn from a distance.

“It normalizes it a little bit,” said Hoffer. “You maybe six feet apart, but you’re still with other kids. You’re not by yourself.”

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