(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) With the pandemic shaking up the school year, some students learning virtually aren't necessarily at home.
Many students attending the virtual academy do not have access to the internet or a laptop
The Bartlett Center is one of many so-called Learning Pods across the city for students attending St. Joseph's Virtual Academy, giving students access to the internet and a place to focus on school.
"The majority of the times I get here at 6:30 in the morning. And then I'll look at all the kids' iPads and tablets to see what work they need and see if a teacher has emailed them overnight and I missed it," said Ariana Davis-Williams, a staff member at the Bartlett Center. "And then we have these daily tasks sheets we fill out that has all their assignments and stuff that they need to do today and so they can keep track of it themselves."
The youth director at the Bartlett Center was not sending her two daughters to in-person school this year, so she had the idea to offer a learning center for those attending the virtual academy.
"I was booked in about a day and a half," said LaTonya Williams. "I mean I just mentioned it. And then people were like, 'my kid's coming, my kid's coming.' Am I able to ease in any more and so..."
Williams is three weeks into her role as being a new teacher, mentioning it's much harder than expected.
"Well I'm not going to lie, I had no idea what I was getting into. I just assumed all I have to is just put them at the table, hit play, and that's all I have to do. No, I was delusional thinking that this was going to be easy at any means."
LaTonya appreciates the help she gets from the middle schooler and high schoolers that are learning virtually from the Bartlett Center.
"Cause like the kids don't really need a lot of help, but when they do, I don't have that much school work to do, so like, it's easy to help them and do my school work," said sophomore Asenia Turner.
The St. Joseph School District is lending a helping hand as well, supplying two hotspots for the students to share internet access and connecting virtual academy teachers with LaTonya.
"They have been extremely amazing. A couple of weeks ago, at the beginning of the program, I was able to go over there and have a meeting to talk to Marlie and ask lots of questions, I was able to meet a couple of the teachers as well and they gave me their email addresses and their numbers and they have been my backbone because I would have been drowning."
The Bartlett Center is practicing temperature checks every morning on each of the kids, including cleaning the restrooms, classrooms and lockers twice a day.
At the end of the day, LaTonya is happy to provide a safe learning environment to those needing it during the pandemic.
"I'm having the time of my life; this is so much fun."