Community learning sites safely help meet e-learning need, students can still sign up for free assistance


INDIANAPOLIS — A community-wide effort is underway to help Marion County students engaged in e-learning connect with places that will set them up for success. Thanks to roughly two dozen community learning sites funded by The Mind Trust, hundreds of students are able to get critical help now for free.

At Your School (AYS) just received additional funding from the Mind Trust and the United Way of Central Indiana which allows them to offer 95 seats for free in their full-day Lift-Off e-Learning program. Those who would like to see if they are eligible should reach out to Sedara Owens at or 317-283-3817, ext. 125.

AYS also takes CCDF and offers financial assistance for families at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

“We’re really grateful for those funds and the ability to really reach students and make sure that they are well cared for in this time,” Chrystal Struben, President and CEO of AYS, said.

Programs like AYS have safety plans in place to help prevent COVID-19’s spread. AYS follows all CDC and state health department guidelines and requires parents to do daily health checks on their children before they enter the facilities.

“We ensure that during those programs, we keep our groups the same,” Struben explained. “So, we’re in very small classroom sizes, static groups so the kids will stay together the entire program.”

Dr. Samina Bhumbra, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Riley Children’s Hospital, said these particular group settings can be safe as long as guidelines are followed.

“It always goes back to the basic things that we’ve learned through the pandemic and that includes wearing a mask and being conscientious of wearing a mask if you’re able to wear a mask, as well as good hand hygiene,” Bhumbra explained “Trying to space out as much as you can.”

Bhumbra said when schools were in session, the spread did not “mirror what’s out in the community.”

“Part of that is because there was good adherence to masks, good adherence to hand washing and also sanitation in general.” Bhumbra said.

For those parents and caregivers sending their students to family members or friends for the day, Bhumbra said the same guidelines apply.

“I think a little bit of that rigidity, you would need to kind of reinforce it with those families if you’re dropping off your child,” Bhumbra explained. “I think the hardest one is actually family members cause genetically you’re related, you’re truly family, but to say ‘well, I still want you to wear a mask around Johnny,’ I think that’s sometimes is tough for families to remember.”

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