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Virtual “Learning Hub” Helps Children Learn and Socialize Safely During Covid-19

DSAL crew wearing Covid masks

Virtual “Learning Hub” Helps Children Learn and Socialize Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

DSAL has been working hard to redesign our services so we can continue supporting families and children during the COVID-19 crisis. One of our latest efforts, a free distance “learning hub” at the Canchitas soccer park, is designed to help kids learn, stay active, and avoid social isolation during the pandemic. The Canchitas—a safe practice field constructed by ACSO and DSAL in 2017—includes two street-soccer fields so kids can practice and play during breaks in their academic schedule.

Schools in Alameda County have reopened with a distance learning model due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while distance learning is an effective way to protect kids from exposure to COVID, it also has the potential for negative side effects. Kids need to keep learning, developing their social skills, and exercising to avoid becoming sedentary and isolated.

Pandemic “learning pods” provide a solution, and they are already common in wealthy communities where parents can afford to hire private tutors and facilitators. Unfortunately, families in Ashland and Cherryland, where parents are struggling to make ends meet during the crisis, are not so fortunate.

With this in mind, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) and DSAL launched the “Canchitas Learning Hub” at 16640 East 14th Street. The supervised learning hub allows two cohorts of 12 children, ages 8-14, to do their virtual classwork; spend safe, socially distanced time with peers; and exercise safely. Importantly, the Canchitas Learning Hub also provides welcome relief for parents trying to juggle working while homeschooling their kids.

The Canchitas Learning Hub is an important element of the Sheriff’s Office Community Capitals Policing initiative, a 15-year-long effort to reinvigorate the economy, reduce crime, improve public safety, and enhance the quality of life in Alameda County’s unincorporated communities.

“Learning hub has been an amazing experience for my daughter. She gets to do the thing she loves in between her virtual learning—play soccer! She’s been on time for all her meetings and she gets all her homework done at the hub. The best part about it is that she is exhausted when she gets home and is ready for bed by 8:30!”

— Diane Robledo (parent)

The Canchitas Learning Hub was constructed by the DSAL coaching staff and Sheriff’s Office deputies from the Crime Prevention Unit, with critical technical support from ACSO’s IT team. The Canchitas Learning Hub features large event tents to provide protection from the elements, large tables that allow ample space for social distancing, and Wi-Fi, so kids can participate in online classes and complete their homework. DSAL coaches are managing the site and supervising the kids while following all available public health best practices to ensure the health and safety of all involved.

“It has been great to hear how excited my boys are each morning about going to the learning hub. They enjoy the physical activity and being ‘ready to learn.' I think daily physical activity during the school day, whether it is before or during their classes, has helped them concentrate more during their online learning. Very thankful for this program and the amazing staff."

— Anthony Roque (parent)


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