Ja’Duke launching program to help students who learn remotely

  • Ja’Duke Preschool will provide a program in the fall that helps remote learners and home-schoolers with their assignments. Above, preschoolers gather at Ja’Duke for the summer while practicing social distancing and wearing masks. All students will be expected to do the same. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Ja’Duke Center for Performing Arts on Industrial Boulevard in Turners Falls. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2020 5:33:43 PM

TURNERS FALLS – Ja’Duke Preschool has created a program to help children in grades kindergarten through sixth in the fall who are either learning remotely or in school only part of the week.

Co-owner Kimberly Williams said S.T.E.P., the Supervised Transition Education Program, will help “fill in the gaps” when school is not happening.

“Some kids whose schools don’t reopen will come five days a week, and other kids will come two or three day a week, depending on how many days they go to school,” Williams said. “We’re still waiting to hear what local schools will be doing.”

The state requires that schools across the state have three plans – fully in-person, fully remote and a combination of the two – and that they make decisions soon.

S.T.E.P. will provide care for school-aged children in kindergarten through sixth grade – there are 36 slots, some full-time and some part-time. During the day, teachers will assist students in completing their required remote and home-school curriculums while providing other activities. All Department of Early Education Care COVID-19 protocol will be strictly adhered to, she said, including wearing masks, social distancing, sanitizing and disinfecting.

“This isn’t a school,” Williams said. “It’s a program that provides care and helps children with their work. At this point it looks like we’ll have three brackets. For instance, if we have 12 kindergartners sign up, that would be one bracket. Then, we’ll break down the other two brackets by age, maybe first- through third-graders and fourth- through sixth-graders. It all depends on who signs up.”

There will be an 8:30 a.m. drop-off and a 3:30 p.m. pickup. Before students enter the building in the Industrial Park in Turners Falls, a morning health check will be held in which parents will fill out a survey and children’s temperatures will be checked.

“We’ll have a remote-learning block time first thing in the morning,” she said. “Children will work on the devices they bring to do the work that has been assigned by their schools’ teachers. They’ll work on those assignments with a teacher assisting them.”

Williams said students will take a walk or hike and return to another remote-learning block mid morning, and then there will be a special gross motor activity before lunch and recess. After recess, students will return to a third remote-learning block where they will finish the assignments for that day.

“After that’s done, we’ll set goals for the following day and then do a wind-down activity like yoga,” she said.

Williams said students will be assisted in all subjects, including math, reading, science and more. Ja’Duke encourages people who are interested to enroll their child and fill in the details later.

“Many won’t know what they need until mid-August, but it’s best to hold a spot now,” she said.

Williams said she expects Ja’Duke will also welcome about 40 new and returning preschoolers for the fall.

For more information, call 413-863-8333 or visit: www.jadukepreschool.com/STEPReach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.


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