What Opportunities Does the Pandemic Make Possible for ALP-T?
As I write this message from my home office, children across the state of North Carolina have been at home for five weeks. Families have scrambled to set up a school-like environment, and classroom teachers have completely revamped lesson plans for distance learning. As Augustine tutors who work with low-income struggling readers, we are also at home, unable to work with the children we tutor. COVID-19 has impacted all of us, disrupting normalcy and creating a social and economic disaster none of us could have imagined.
In the early days of the Stay-At-Home order, COVID-19 had in effect paralyzed us and concerns intensified daily. For our students: without our one-to-one instruction, much of the progress made during the first semester would be lost resulting in children being further behind when schools finally reopen. For our organization: can it survive in a world of distance learning since we train and tutor using pencil and paper?
However, in thinking about the impact of the pandemic on our children and our organization, it has become clear that instead of dwelling on what wouldn’t or couldn’t happen during this time, we needed to shift our response to the crisis and look at what opportunities this disaster makes possible for the Augustine Literacy Project.
When students do return to school, our skilled tutors will be needed more than ever and schools will necessarily recruit additional volunteer tutors. It is likely a struggle for our Augustine students to participate in distance learning right now. And any child, in a digital divide without access to computers and internet connections, will also suffer. We anticipate many more students will benefit from tutoring.
COVID-19 has given us the time to think carefully and creatively about our training and tutoring models, and in the process, we are uncovering new roadmaps to help children who need the skilled literacy intervention an Augustine tutor provides. Knowing that the demand for tutors will rise when schools reopen, we are planning additional training sessions this summer to increase the number of tutors. Further, because many children start kindergarten without knowing letters and sounds, a research-based K-1 tutor training will be launched in June to meet the needs of the youngest elementary-age child. We are also designing an online training model with plans to implement it if the Shelter-at-Home order remains in place. We are confident that these changes to our programs will provide expanded opportunities for increased numbers of children who struggle with literacy.
We find ourselves living in a world fraught with worry about health and the economy. Not being able to spend time with friends or family face-to-face is hard. Working from home is challenging. And shopping for hand sanitizer is impossible. But, as long as children struggle to read, Augustine Literacy Project’s board and staff are committed to being prepared to hit the ground running - as soon as we can. Please join us!