LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood is used to opening their doors for kids after school, but with the pandemic keeping schools closed, the organization is opening up for school.

Staffers at the Boys & Girls Club are not teaching students, but are instead providing a safe place and some support navigating online classes for children who don’t have internet at home or have parents who work outside the home.

Parent Vivian Valero says her three kids struggled with distance learning in the spring.

“They were not able to keep up, they were not engaged, they didn’t want to participate, it was very hard,” she said. “I feel they lost those three months, they just didn’t learn.”

Valero says she’s hopeful things will go better this year. She’s one of many parents who are grateful the Boys & Girls Club decided to help out, even though the number of students who can be helped is limited so their facility can comply with social distancing guidelines.

“Knowing that I’m going to have somebody watching him and helping him, guiding him through what he needs, it’s just an amazing feeling,” parent Cynthia Skendzic said.

When campuses closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, a huge swath of students were left in the lurch because they didn’t have the needed technology, internet access, not to mention the help of a teacher to guide them through online lesson plans they never had to deal with before.

“We know that many of our brown and Black kids are going to be left behind in this new world of virtual learning,” said Mel Culpepper of the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. “It’s about being here for the families that need us most, it’s about being here for the kids that need us most.”

Each Boys & Girls Club in the region makes their own decision about what programs to offer for the school year, and whether or not to charge parents. The Hollywood Boys & Girls Club is offering their services for free.

“We’re the new schoolhouse,” Culpepper said. “I think that’s the really good way to think of it.”


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