BGCD sets 'Learning Clusters' for students working remotely

As students return to school this fall, some learning remotely and others in-person, the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester (BGCD) announced Monday the launch of a new program to support students learning virtually: “Learning Clusters” by which staff will engage groups of K-8 students in activities while they learn remotely.

Students will be welcomed into safe and clean buildings where they will have access to meals and snacks, a structured daily schedule, social-emotional and mental health support, WiFi connectivity and computer access, fitness activities, as well as tutoring and other enrichment activities. 

“We have heard from our families and the need is clear: Educational support for their children is their number one concern,” said Brendan McDonald, BGCD’s vice president of programming.  “Our team is proud to be able to fill this need and offer the services our families deserve, proving that together we can do more to help close the gaps in equity when we work collaboratively to help ensure every child’s success.”

This fall, BCGD staff will work with groups of up to 12 students from families in need of full-day programming organized by grade level for remote learning. Activities will include arts and crafts, STEM, health and wellness activities, as well as fitness, outdoor play, and more. 

“As Boston Public Schools plan for modified learning this school year, many families will need support to make it work for them and their children when classes start next week, “ said Mary Kinsella Scannell, BGCD’s senior vice president of education and programming. “We see the need and are working with families to develop a comprehensive plan to provide safe, supportive, and meaningful programs. Our hope is that the proposed Learning Clusters will help to alleviate stress, support children’s social-emotional well-being and address educational inequalities as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

Since March, BGCD has distributed nearly 15,000 meals, hosted more than 400 virtual program videos and zoom lessons, and delivered diapers and formula to hundreds of families. The club reopened in July with limited capacity.