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San Francisco To Provide 'Community Learning Hubs' For Students In Need

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- On Tuesday night, the San Francisco School Board will finalize its plan for fully remote learning, a decision forced on school districts by the state.

But the city recently announced a plan of its own for reducing the isolation of some of its neediest students.

"They learn so much from play and interaction with other kids that it's just as important as hitting the books," said Cherease Coats, a program director for San Francisco's Recreation and Parks Department.

She operates a summer camp for about 60 kids at SF's Minnie and Lovie Ward Recreation Center that may become the new template for education in San Francisco's lower-income neighborhoods. The city has announced what it's calling community learning hubs: places kids can walk to for remote learning with internet access and adult supervision.

"The big difference between these learning hubs and say a large school is just that; these are very small hubs. So we will have a very small number of children within these facilities," said Director of San Francisco's Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) Maria Su.

The hubs are intended for high-needs students living in public housing or hotels, homeless and foster youth and English-language learners. They are the children of working parents who would otherwise be left alone at home.

"We need to make sure that families do not have to choose between working and taking care of their children," said Su.

The Learning Hubs will operate under the guidance of the Department of Public Health when it issues its new back-to-school health orders. The all-day program will provide daily meals, digital technology and after-school enrichment activities.

40 sites set to open Sept. 14 have been selected so far at recreation centers, libraries and local non-profits.

The city is looking for more locations and eventually hopes to serve up to 6,000 students. But will it be safe? Coats told KPIX 5 she has operated the children's program at the Ward Rec Center for more that 4 months without a single case of COVID-19 being reported.

"When they have the adults around them giving reminders -- wash your hands, sanitize, keep your space, those kinds of things -- I wholeheartedly believe they can be safe," she said.

Enrollment for the hubs starts Aug. 15 and continues through Sept. 4.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed also said the city's Emergency Child and Youth Care program will resume on Aug. 31 at five San Francisco Recreation and Park Department facilities, the Glen Park, Richmond, Sunset, Hamilton and Potrero Hill recreation centers.

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