WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Two Lycoming County non profits are hosting Williamsport Area School District students in the remote portion of the district’s hybrid learning model.
The goal is to help ease the burden on working and single parents as thousands of Williamsport Area School District Students are now learning remotely three days a week. Firetree place and Camp Susque have created temporary classrooms to make sure no one falls through the cracks.
“Trying to make sure the parents would have the ability to kind of make sure that they can go back to work but also making sure that their kids are safe,” said Billy Dayton, the executive director at Firetree Place.
Camp Susque executive director Peter Swift says it was an effort borne out of necessity.
“It’s a challenge that just comes with the schedule. And the school district didn’t have an obvious solution for what do they do with their kids if they work,” said Swift.
The undertaking goes far beyond supervision of area students. Kids are being fed, offered transportation and engage in activities on top of their digital curriculum.
Firetree is currently hosting kids ages 5 through 12, while Camp Susque has kids aged 5 through 8. Roughly 600 primary and intermediate students in the district have been affected by the hybrid model.
Other Lycoming County Organizations are pitching in as well.
“We put together a coalition with a number of churches in our area. As a result, we were able to provide support for at least three schools, hoping to have the entire district and many other districts covered in our county soon,” Swift said.
And the county is stepping in to help, Lycoming County commissioners publicly offered their support for the initiative last week, pledging assistance via CARES Act relief funding.
Commissioner Rick Mirabito believes allowing working parents to get back to work will be key in jump starting a struggling economy.
“From a practical point of view, the only way we can get the economy working is if we get people back to work. And we’re able to do that if we know that children are learning.”
It’s an effort that’s helping students who need it the most. Firetree Place reports 40 percent of their students are from single parent households, with 60 percent coming from families below the poverty line.
At Camp Susque, Swift says he understands what’s at stake.
“The hybrid model disproportionately impacts working families, or families with single parent households. So the opportunity to support those families is a really important thing for us.”
Williamsport Area School District Superintendent Dr. Timothy Bowers acknowledged that very inequality that the virus has exposed. He says these programs have been highly beneficial for both the district and its students and that they’re coordinating with the organizations to make sure all those needs are met.