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Churches study halls provide safe zones for distance learning

In times of trouble, people often turn to their church to help soothe their souls. Today, as families — particularly those with school-age children — deal with the effects of COVID-19, they can again turn to a church for help.

Several local churches have opened their doors and created study halls, a place where children can attend their classes online while their parents work.

Jason King, pastor of Calvary Chapel, said their free study hall is a safe place for students to do their work. It offers free Wi-Fi and adult supervision in a clean, quiet and socially distanced environment.

Their aim was to solve the problem of working parents.

“We really want to fill in the gap for working parents who are really pinched right now. It’s really an impossible situation for a lot of families right now,” he said.

King said they do not provide tutoring or any type of instruction and children must be able to work independently. The study hall is open from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m.

Before being admitted, each child must answer COVID-related questions about their health, have their temperature taken, wear a face mask or shield and use the provided hand sanitizer.

King added that the children are kept apart, with each sitting at their own table.

As an added safety precaution, the tables, chairs and other surfaces in the study hall are cleaned between noon and 1 p.m., when the voluntary shifts change and there is time for a lunch break. King said children are welcome to stay at the study hall and can bring their own lunches.

“We are happy, as a church family, to have the opportunity to serve our community,” King said.

Christian Center Church, which offers day care for children 2-9, also offers a free study hall.

“It’s not babysitting; just an open space for kids,” said Deborah Downs, lead pastor.

Children between the ages of 10 and 18 are welcome to attend the study hall, which is set up in a separate room with Wi-Fi and operates from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Membership in the church is not required.

“The room that we are using is pretty large. We have several tables set up, away from each other, that are cleaned when they have been used and in between (days).”

Currently, she and her daughter, a senior at Boulder City High School, are monitoring the study hall.

“She has to attend classes herself and was willing to help,” Downs said.

She added that the church recently expanded its paid day-care service for kindergartners and first graders to accept children up to age 9/third grade because they are not legally allowed to stay at home alone when they are 9 or younger.

Because of the day care, Downs said that all adults on campus have cleared a background check.

Bethany Baptist Church partnered with Christ Lutheran Church to offer a distance learning center at its facility at 201 Wyoming St. It is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and costs $25 per day.

Jessica Stetson, wife of Christ Lutheran’s pastor, Adam Stetson, said the center provides a credentialed teacher for each group of 12 students. The students have assigned individual workstations and work in groups of 12 or less.

“We are currently seeking volunteers to help our IEP (individualized educational program) students with more one-on-one attention,” she said.

Additionally, it offers snacks, recess, activities and games to keep the students engaged.

Stetson said students’ temperatures are checked every morning before entering the distance learning center. They also must wear a face covering, as do the teachers.

For more information, contact King at jking@calvarychapelbc.org, Downs at 702-293-7773 or Stetson at 949-838-5769.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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