The pandemic has placed the future of on-site schooling up in the air in Los Angeles, but students in Watts will still have the opportunity to access additional resources thanks to a program called “Hands Across Watts.”
With health measures in place, there will be two “safe zone” locations where students from K-12 will be able to use online services, mental health services and receive tutoring. Older students from the ages of 16-25 will also have the opportunity to take STEM courses and vocational training courses.
“Hands Across Watts” is a collaborative effort with the GO Campaign and Beachbody Foundation, along with the Avalon Carver Community Center, Clean Slate, Watts Community Core and Charles Drew University contributing their resources for the students.
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The “safe zones” will be located at the Avalon Carver Community Center and the Nickerson Gardens Recreation Center, where they will have the opportunity to receive help with math, English and even coding.
The program will also offer access to individual and group telehealth online counseling.
“We have these amazing people in Watts, they really are poised to make a huge difference there,” Go Campaign Founder and CEO Scott Fifer said. “When COVID hit… it really made us think that now is the time, more than ever, that Watts needs help.”
Hands Across Watts was created in response to the LAUSD closures for fear that the kids in Watts would fall behind because of known poor internet connections, or parents struggling to tutor their kids without any outside help.
As far as the COVID-19 precautions, the programs at each “safe zone” location will have three staggered sessions throughout the day, with social distancing, face covering enforcement and Plexiglas shields between the desks.
Fifer added that there will be vigorous cleaning and sanitizing between each cohort.
“When you’re able to have a program like this come into the community, it can help keep [children] away from all of the elements that don’t make it right for them,” Watts Community Core co-founder Donny Joubert said. “We’re trying to teach our kids how to be responsible and do right. We knew if we could do this in [our] community, it [will] make a big difference”
The three cohorts will be offered for two hours each from Monday through Friday until the end of the school year, regardless of what LAUSD class settings may look like in that time.