Kids all over South Carolina are trying to get an education from home these days. For more than 10,000 of them who aren’t living in a permanent home, that’s even harder.
Within days of schools being cancelled in March, Midlands shelters realized changes had to be made due to social distancing. Access to Wi-Fi was needed immediately to help kids experiencing homelessness keep up with their peers academically through various methods.
At Homeless No More, which assists 62 families, students typically share a community center that had Wi-Fi to get their schoolwork done. However, the students can’t gather and need to stay at least six feet from one another.
And families don’t have access to Wi-Fi in their rooms unless they have a hotspot on their phone.
The United Way of the Midlands COVID-19 Response Fund assisted Homeless No More and Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter with some of the funding to upgrade internet services at their locations.
Students at the Family Shelter now have outdoor picnic tables that allows them to get their schoolwork done while maintaining safe distance from one another.
“This has allowed our families to embrace the e-learning environment,” said Lila Anna Sauls, Homeless No More president and CEO. “In the beginning, our team was having to print things out and find a middle ground to help the students and our families keep up. Our parents now can help take an active role and our students are able to keep up with their peers.”
Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter, which has two locations, a children’s shelter and teen house, assists 45 people. Many of the residents are either in high school, working towards their GED or attending Midlands Technical College.
“We wanted to ensure that we were able to provide them with access to their education during this time,” said Jill Lawson McHugh, Palmetto Place executive director.