‘All Day at the J’ helping students, parents during online school

‘All Day at the J’ helping students, parents during online school

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s been nearly a week of virtual learning for Savannah-Chatham County Public School students.

While it’s been an adjustment for all, it’s been a big change for some after-school programs who pivoted from playing to teaching.

Counselors at the Jewish Educational Alliance are typically busy playing with kids at their camps, but with their new program, “All Day at the J”, that’s changed a bit. Now they are teaching.

“It is completely different from everything we have ever experienced here at the J,” said Jackie Laban, assistant director for Children and Camp.

They began the program to help working families as students headed back to class virtually.

“I feel for working parents, this is not the easiest thing and I also feel for the kids too,” said D.J. Horton, director of Children and Camp.

To ensure safety, the JEA is sanitizing spaces regularly and students in the program get screened, wear masks and more. While they still offer their typical after school care, the halls during the day are quiet as students work inside cohorted classrooms on their individual learning plans.

“I had to adjust to the Zoom stuff, and I had to adjust to online school. It’s getting like, the beginning of the year, but it’s been getting better,” 5th grade student Levon Brown said.

Brown said he’s glad to be learning at the J with friends.

“It’s been so fun. I’m so glad they are doing it. It’s like the best thing ever,” Brown said.

While students enjoy it, leaders say they’ve had their fair share of challenges. Although they upgraded their internet they’ve had to roll with the punches, adapting to outages and more.

“My assistant and I have become IT Specialists overnight. We’ve had to learn different platforms and how to navigate through Zoom and all the other platforms that they are learning with,” Horton said.

But beyond the technology, it’s also been a task to manage 60 students’ different schedules. Leaders say it’s getting easier every day as they learn from the day before and continue to work with their students and families.

“The appreciation we’ve gotten from our families has been tremendous. You could see parents just breathing a sigh of relief when they are able to get their kids out knowing that their kids are healthy, safe in a good environment and doing everything they can,” Laban said.

Leaders say “All Day at the J” will continue until it’s no longer needed and students return to in-person classes.

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