What do you do when you’ve been providing summer learning opportunities to students for decades but are now confronted with a global pandemic and state guidance that no in-person summer activities should take place? You innovate, roll up your sleeves and plan two weeks of at home and virtual experiences called – Camp Covington 2020 #TeamKentucky. Covington Partners is a nonprofit organization, located in Kenton County, whose mission is to eliminate boundaries to learning and success for students and families in the Covington Independent Public Schools district. For the past several years, the organization has been collaborating with the school district and other community partners to deliver in-person summer learning programs for students in grades kindergarten – twelfth at all seven schools in the district. Then COVID-19 changed everything. “When we found out we needed to switch gears and would not be able to offer in-person programming, we knew one thing was certain: we wanted to serve as many students and possible and provide them with the same high-quality program they could engage in from their own homes, “said Ashley McClure, Resource Development Coordinator for Covington Partners.
In a matter of weeks, McClure and her team of site coordinators, teachers, classified staff and community partners pooled resources, designed curricula, and organized supplies for the nearly 400 students who registered for the at-home/virtual program. While the program has a vast array of online resources on their website including videos, no student was left out because all activities could be completed without a device or access to the internet. “Through collaboration of a tremendous program staff and community partners, we were able to develop a two-week curriculum, purchase and deliver all needed activity supplies to students, create a program workbook and website, and schedule daily Google Meets to interact with students and families,” added McClure.
The new program has three distinct hours of engagement for elementary students:
- Hour 1 – Let’s Learn: Fun and engaging activities designed by certified teachers focused on reading and math.
- Hour 2 – Let’s Have Fun: Daily activities in sign language, drawing, STEAM, fitness, gardening (bucket of dirt included!) and cooking.
- Hour 3 – Let’s Explore: Lessons and activities designed and delivered by community partners including the local public library and arts center.
Students who complete all activities and a program survey have the option to fill out a bingo card and be entered into a drawing for prizes. In addition, program staff host daily Google Meets so students and parents can connect with teachers, ask questions and interact with friends in a safe environment – “We had students from different schools logged on at the same time, so it was fun to hear them interact with each other and talk about their summer.”
Covington Partners also provided at-home/virtual programs for middle school students (including bridge building!) and high school students. A variety of funding streams were used to pay for supplies, staffing and partner costs including 21st Century Community Learning Center funds.
Students and parents have been happy with the results:
- “I love this program. All the crafts and things are really fun!” – sixth grader
- “First, I have to say how beautifully put together everything is. The care and consideration put into the program is obvious and warms our hearts.” – parent
- “Camp Covington has been super fun for students and awesome to see the students using problem solving skills to work through STEAM activities.” – teacher
To learn more about Covington Partners and Camp Covington, visit their website at www.mycovingtonpartners.org. Covington Partners is also a recipient of KYOSA’s Community Coalition Mini-Grant program which provides funding to community coalitions to address community needs through innovative out-of-school time programs and activities.