Education doesn’t stop even in the midst of a pandemic.
The Economic Opportunity Council (EOC) in Macon is determined to provide parents with young children the resources needed to learn, even if learning has to take place remotely.
The EOC also facilitates Head Start, an early education and instructional program designed for kids ages six months to five years old; pregnant mothers are also included in the EOC Head Start Programs.
For the first 9 weeks of the school year, the EOC decided to tackle the program virtually.
Head Start began their virtual programs on August 17th.
They are hosting live classes through zoom, and providing educational packets for families that don’t have internet access.
Jacquice Jones, coordinator of EOC Head Start programs, says the biggest initial challenge was ensuring that all families had technology.
“However, what we’ve noticed you know, with us starting off with our pre-k classrooms; if you have a cellphone that’s an electronic device where you’re able to come and tap into zoom. And the teachers are still able to facilitate that learning,” Jones explains.
The EOC has been able to purchase some technology for families in need using CARES ACT funds.
After conducting a survey they found 60% of families whose children are enrolled in Head Start did not have remote learning devices.
Jones tells WGXA the EOC has already placed an order for additional technology and that they are just waiting for the delivery.
“As soon as the technology comes in we’ll start with a list first of those who stated they don’t have technology at all other than an electronic device. We will be meeting with those families so that we can get them the technology so the student is able to complete their assignments.”
Despite the challenges that come with EOC Head Start having to go virtual, many parents feel this is the best way for their children to stay safe.
Deborah Ferguson is a parent actively involved in the EOC Head Start programs and has watched all five of her children complete the program.
She says the new virtual way of learning will take some getting used to, but ultimately believes it’s for the best.
“I feel like being online is probably the safest option for all of us right now because it’s so uncertain. It’s new and change, but I feel completely confident that it’s going to be successful,” says Ferguson.
Teachers and staff will check in with families on a weekly basis to make sure both parents and children are understanding and completing the assignments.
“We’re still doing those weekly calls. Teachers are making sure the families understood the learning activities and to see if they need any further help. There’s still parent teacher conferences taking place, home visits are taking place and then the family advocateS are checking up on the parents to ensure that they have the resources that are available to them and to determine if there are any needs,” Jones explains.