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City Kicks Off Program to Help Working Parents Through Blended Learning

learning bridges video still

Commonpoint Queens is incredibly grateful to Roger Clark, Spectrum NY1 reporter and Central Queens alum, for visiting our Sam Field Center in Little Neck on September 21 to report on the opening of our NYC Department of Education Learning Bridges program. This critical program supports working families who have chosen a blended learning option and allows students to complete their virtual coursework in a safe environment.

Learning Bridges is a new program that provides free child care options for children enrolled in New York City public schools from 3-K through 8th grade on days when they are scheduled for remote learning. Commonpoint Queens hosts Learning Bridges at our Bay Terrace Center in Bayside and Central Queens site in Forest Hills, in addition to the Sam Field Center.

To NY1’s full story, visit https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2020/09/22/city-kicks-off-program-to-help-working-parents-through-blended-learning or continue reading below.

A room full of kids using laptops, with headphones on. It may appear that they are all in the same class at the same school, when actually; they are enrolled in different classes at different schools.

They are learning remotely in one location at the Commonpoint Queens Sam Field Center in Little Neck.

“When children have remote instruction the days they are not obligated to be in school, they come into locations like ours,” said Danielle Ellman, CEO of Commonpoint Queens, who added that their team will support children in their remote education and provide STEM and extracurricular programming to keep them engaged while their parents are working.

Commonpoint is one of the agencies hosting the city’s Learning Bridges Program, which provides places for children in 3K through eighth grades to learn on days they are not scheduled to be in the classroom.

It’s a much needed, free child-care option for parents like Craig Lastres and his wife, who are public school teachers with two young children.

“They are supposed to be learning remotely while someone needs to care for our kids and there are only so many times you can count on grandma and grandpa to have babysitting,” said Lastres.

Commonpoint officially opens as a Bridge site next week when grade school and middle school students, who will take part in blended learning, alternate between classroom and remote instruction, begin going to school.

This week, some non-profits like Commonpoint are offering the service. It fills a gap as the city’s emergency day care program for essential workers, which began in March when the pandemic erupted, has ended.

School Clinical Social Worker Anacaona Antoine dropped her 10-year-old son off.  She believes Learning Bridges should have begun for all kids this week, instead of only starting for preschoolers.

“With the dates changing and now kids are having to start remote, it is hard for working-parents and it becomes confusing,” said Antoine.

Ellman says there are challenges to running programs like this during a pandemic.

Commonpoint Queens has spent upwards of $400,000 in COVID-19-related capital improvements, not to mention adding staff and equipment to provide for a safe and healthy environment.  She says it’s important for them to make sure people get to their jobs while their kids get educated.

“We are trying hard to support Queens, and support the needs of working families, and help people get back to some sort of routine,” said Ellman.