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Community learning sites bring relief to IPS parents ahead of virtual school start

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Starting Monday, Indianapolis Public Schools families will be tasked with balancing school at home with an already busy schedule.

To help students and their families, community learning centers will be available.

IPS students can join one of 11 community learning sites across Indianapolis where they’ll get help with their schoolwork, have that social interaction with other students, and be taken care of while their parents are at work. All of the community learning sites are free.

Michelle Island, an IPS parent, has got her hands full already. When she heard about the move to fully virtual learning at IPS she had to scramble a bit to figure out how that was going to work.

“That was concerning,” Island said. “Especially being a single mom at home so having three children, that can be a lot of different ages, so it was concerning for me.”

Her kids will now be taken care of thanks to The Mind Trust. The foundation invested $200,000 to set up learning sites in places including the Edna Martin Christian Center.

“We’ll have support for e-learning, food, a whole bunch of activities for kids,” said Brandon Brown, chief executive officer of The Mind Trust. “And it will be a safe, loving place for kids to go during the day to ensure that they’re still getting high-quality instruction and they have the social-emotional supports that we know are so important.”

Each site determines and coordinates what meals, activities and other elements it can provide, The Mind Trust added.

Some of the sites, including the Chaney Microlearning Center, seem as though they can’t hold many students. But, The Mind Trust says, they’re keeping safety in mind. The 11 sites will serving from about 20 kids to about 150 kids, Brown said. “It’s really dependent upon the facility and the capacity for the organization. We know that it’s going to be really important to follow CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, and we want to make sure that we are following all social distancing practices.”

Island says by having that extra help and support from a learning community, she doesn’t need to worry or feel like she’s carrying the world on her shoulders.

“You do not have to do this alone,” Island said. “It takes a village to raise a child and your children. That’s what I feel that they are offering, that extension for that village. So, get with it and make those connections.”

This is only set to go as long as IPS is planning virtual learning. Right now, that’s until fall break. If they go longer, The Mind Trust will look for more funds. There’s only enough room for around 500 students, so potential participants need to sign up soon.

This story has been updated with corrections.