PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Many parents know just how much virtual learning set students back across the country. Now, school board members in Pitt County are putting money into making up for those losses.
They’re doing that by investing in after-school programs the area already has. WITN talked to district leaders and organizers of the programs about where that money will go.
“It is a priority to help with the learning loss that we have seen since 2020,” Director of Outreach and Public Relations Beth Ulffers said.
Students, though back at their desks, are trying to make up for lost time. It often falls on teachers to help them catch up, but they don’t have to do it alone.
Pitt County Schools is trying to help by bolstering two after-school programs that already exist: Bethel Youth Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain.
“Both programs have solid models. They focus on reading, writing, math. They have STEM activities. They have arts enrichment activities, and they also have a physical education component,” Ulffers explained.
Kimberly Reaves is the CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain. In just Pitt County alone, they work with about a thousand students, and they expect to grow.
“We served across our organization about 300 more on the first day of school this year than what we did on the first day of school last year,” Reaves said.
She said the impact of online learning is not just academic.
“We’re seeing behavior change, we’re seeing mindset change. And I’m sure the school system can also attest to having some additional struggles with dealing with behavior issues, not just academic issues,” Reaves said.
This year, PCS will direct $85,000 toward Bethel Youth Center, which serves 64 students. The school district will also provide $500,000 to the county’s five Boys and Girls Club locations over the period of two years, giving $250,000 each year. They hope that, with each investment, making up for lost time becomes more and more possible.
“We are extremely pleased to learn about the new funding that will come our way to support learning beyond the classroom,” Dr. Garrie W. Moore, CEO of Bethel Youth Activity Center said. “We are a STEM Center with a focus on student achievement.”
Moore said the new funding will be used to expand and enhance programming, broaden its literacy program to include more technology, acquire equipment to support out-of-the-classroom activities, expand recreational programs, and bring additional students into the center.
“It’s giving hope and opportunity and exposure to those that normally might not get it,” Reaves said.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Coastal Plain serves a total of 7 counties. This money will go to their five Pitt County locations alone.
The funding came to the school district from ESSER funds., which are in the CARES act. The act is meant to address the impact of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools across the country.
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