MANSFIELD, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – As districts struggle to craft plans to start the new school year, many are opting for online classes only for the first few weeks.
Still, what looks like a “solution” in one household becomes a “challenge” in another. What about families who lack access to internet? Or students whose parents can’t work from home?READ MORE: Oh Poop! Suspects Wanted For Arson In Southlake After Blowing Up Porta Potty With Fireworks
In Mansfield, community groups are coming to the rescue.
“It’s going to be a huge relief for those families where Mom and Dad can’t work out of the house or can’t work well with their students there,” said Jim McReynolds, youth pastor at Walnut Ridge Baptist in Mansfield. “Their students are going to be cared for, encouraged to stay on task… as a former teacher, that’s a great thing.”
McReynolds says staffers scrambled to figure out a workable plan when approached by the district to offer supervised spaces where students could access WiFi and complete online lessons until in-person classes start on Sept. 8.
“We’ve been waiting for an opportunity to get involved,” said Walnut Ridge executive director Jody Maxwell. “We’ve literally been praying for an opening, so we could serve.”
Staffers had already removed rows of seating to create more space. And by next week, individual tables will be added to provide work spaces for students, while also follow spacing guidelines. Still, the setup with provide some safe interaction.
“A lot of students are ready to go back to school,” said McReynolds. “They didn’t realize how wonderful school was– just the social aspect. We’re looking to help provide that need here, in our own social distance way.”READ MORE: Arlington Police Associations To Present 'No Confidence' Petitions To City Council Regarding Chief Al Jones
A number of churches, day cares and community groups in the area are preparing to offer the “educational day camps,” serving students in third through eighth grades.
At Walnut Ridge, retired teachers are being tapped to help in the effort, along with certified instructors already on the church staff. And everyone will undergo background checks.
“I’ve entertained about 30 emails just today,” said McReynolds. “Parents have questions, before they trust their kids to us.”
Parents will be required to sign students in and out each day and temperatures will be checked at the door. Masks will be provided if students don’t have their own. And the instructional day does include some “brain breaks” so students can get outside.
As a youth pastor, McReynolds says they’ve already found ways to get creative but still allow kids to run and play.
“Well, we play kickball, except no one touched the ball, except for me,” he said.
Staffers at Walnut Ridge say they’re not looking to replace the Mansfield ISD teacher lessons — just provide safety and support as students access them. Mansfield ISD has placed a link on its website providing more information on participating groups, hours and costs.MORE NEWS: Fort Worth Leaders Ring In Salvation Army's North Texas Red Kettle Campaign
“It’s a difficult time… it’s a crazy time,” said McReynolds. “And we have all got to come together and figure out how we are going to help each other.”