Old Town

Students can get free remote learning help at YMCA through school district partnership

Students in Alton, Bradley and Old Town can now get free help with their remote learning classes through a new joint program from the Old Town-Orono YMCA and the RSU 34 district. 

The program is covered through part of a $25 million coronavirus relief fund for Maine public schools to support working parents and their students in remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The YMCA, which runs its own educational and afterschool programs, is offering students throughout the district — who are 14 years old or younger — to do their classwork and get help from on-staff tutors and volunteers at their own facility. 

The program officially launched earlier this week. 

“It evolved pretty quickly,” Old Town-Orono YMCA Childcare Director Andrew Walker said. 

10/8/2020 12:40:08 PM
RSU 34 Superintendent David Walker helps a remote learning student at the Old Town-Orono YMCA. (Courtesy of Andrew Walker)

So far, an average of 60 to 70 remote learning students are going to the YMCA for support during the day — though there is still space for more, he said. 

This isn’t the first time the YMCA has partnered with the RSU 34 district, Walker said, and as both are navigating new obstacles with schooling amid the coronavirus pandemic, it made sense to collaborate on this latest project. 

“[We] work well together anyways so this seemed like a natural fit,” Walker said. 

With a share of the RSU 34’s COVID-19 relief funding, the YMCA has been able to purchase new HEPA vacuums and air purifiers to safely accommodate students, he said. The school district is also providing breakfast and lunch to students at no cost. 

While students are spaced six feet apart and have plastic barriers in between one another, the remote learning support program gives kids a chance to safely socialize with their peers, Walker said. For parents, it also means they can take a break from simultaneously trying to parent and teach their students’ lessons at home. 

Walker said that whatever struggles local students and their families are facing during the pandemic — such as internet access or transportation issues — the YMCA and the school district will work to help them.

 “We’ll overcome anything we can,” he said. 

The YMCA is also looking for volunteers who are passionate about education and working with children to assist with the program. Families can pick up a registration packet from the YMCA and can get more information from Walker via email at andrew.walker@otoymca.org

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