E-Learning camp offered for students whose school buildings are closed

Education By David Snelling, Reporter Wednesday, September 2, 2020

     The town of Miami Lakes is providing working parents with a child care option for students enrolled in public schools who resumed virtual learning on Aug. 31.

     Called E-Learning Support Day Camp, the town is partnering with YMCA staff who will monitor kids as they do their schoolwork in a public center in town.

     During its Aug. 18 meeting, the town council approved a plan to provide places for 54 students, from ages 5 to 12.

     As of Aug. 31, 22 children were enrolled.    

    Up to 36 students will be placed in the YMCA program at the Roberto Alonso Community Center in Royal Oaks Park, at 16500 N.W. 87th Ave.

      If the program fills up at that location, another town center will be opened to accommodate new children.

     A plan to also use the Snapology program was on hold, the town said.

      The YMCA E-Learning Support Day Camp will be held from 7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.     

      It costs $135 per week for residents and $155 for non-residents.

     There is an additional $50 registration fee, and there is a sibling discount available.

     Counselors will help students during school hours and also offer enrichment activities afterward.

     Register here or email Bill Nunez, executive director, at BNunez@YMCASouthFlorida.org or call 305-357-4000.

      The program will run until Oct. 2, when the school district hopes it will be safer for children to return to schoolhouses with less of a threat from the virus.

     Danny Angel, Miami Lakes parks and recreation director, said the kids will learn the same curriculum as other students working from home, which includes talking with their teachers via ZOOM.

      Campers should bring lunch, their own laptops, headphones and school supplies.

     “This program is already working in other municipalities in Miami-Dade County,” Angel said.

      There is revenue split between the program and town for use of the facilities, and the town gets 20%,  Angel said.

     Mayor Manny Cid and Councilman Carlos Alvarez said they proposed the idea because some working parents couldn’t find a supervised place for their young children to learn while online.

     “I actually heard from a lot of parents who may have to quit their jobs to stay at home with their kids,” Cid said.

     “A lot of people cannot telecommute and do not have any place or anyone to assist with taking care of their children during the school year,” he said.

     Alvarez, who is principal at COHEA, or City of Hialeah public charter school, said the town is stepping in to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

     “Providing an educational pod for our families and our students, what better way to do it than through our town being able to provide that educational support,” Alvarez said.

     Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano said she “fully” supported the program as a quality of life issue for residents, but she called it a “Band-Aid” and said it should have an end date.

     “Municipalities are not in the business of child care nor child education,”

Ruano said. “This is something that is a responsibility of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.”

    She added, “At this point, the public school system is receiving [tax] monies and they are not doing their job,” which she called “theft.”

     Ruano said it was hypocritical to close schools to protect children from COVID-19 and then open town facilities for them.

      “If the children are not safe in a school they are not safe in our community centers,” Ruano said.

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