Fresno Mission working to help homeless students with distance learning

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For most California kids, school will soon be in session outside of the classroom.

Distance learning to minimize the spread of COVID-19 means starting the school remotely.

But for kids without a place to call home...

"Distance learning is a luxury that those kids simply don't have," says Matthew Dildine, CEO of Fresno Mission.

Dildine says through learning centers at both the Downtown and Rescue the Children Campuses, they will continue to provide kids much-needed structure in their often traumatic lives.

Areas designated for kids to complete their distance learning curriculum.

"This is not just 100 kids clumped into a room," Dildine said. "We are creating separate rooms that are socially distanced. There will actually be pods set up for the different kind of age categories."

Dildine says social distancing will be enforced in the classroom style pods. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to help guide and tutor kids.

Most of the technology, like laptops and hotspots, will be provided by Fresno Unified and Aspen Charter School.

"Really what our goal is so that when these kids return to school, that the teachers will go back and look and say, 'Hey, those kids that were at the Fresno Mission, they are doing great,'" he said. "They are not behind, they are ahead of the class."

Dildine says the number of classrooms will depend on the number of families receiving services at The Mission at the time.

That ranges from 50 to more than 100 kids staying at the facility at once.

Disinfecting measures are in place and masks are worn at the facility's pre-school.

This year, Kindergarteners will be added to the mix to accommodate their distance learning curriculum.

Dildine says these classroom settings are also going to serve as a place for Rescue Mission employees to bring their kids as well so they don't have to choose between a job and the health and education of their own kids.
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