by Terry Rogers
With school districts in the area starting the year in either a totally remote or hybrid learning atmosphere, Avenue United Methodist Church recognized that many children were having difficulty accessing the internet at home. In an effort to address this need in the community, Avenue created the Virtual Café, making space and Wi-Fi available to those who do not have internet or whose internet is not reliable.
“In the spring, when schools went to virtual learning, we became concerned about students who may not have reliable internet,” Steve Lamotte, Lead Pastor, said. “We saw that this would adversely impact the learning process and that the achievement gap would increase for students who could not participate in the virtual school day. We have Wi-Fi and plenty of space, so it seemed to be a no brainer to make our space available.”
Lamotte explained that members of the church have heard and experienced the challenges parent and students are facing with virtual learning. Some of the students have no access to internet while others do not have enough bandwidth at home for multiple children to participate at once. Still others have financial limitations that prevent them from accessing the internet.
“The community has done a great job of coming up with creative solutions since the spring,” Lamotte said. “We hope that this can be a helpful option for some families. We are currently open on Mondays and Thursdays for both morning and afternoon groups. We plan to be open as longa s needed and as long as we have volunteers to staff the Café.”
Lamotte praised the Milford community for stepping up and helping students who may be struggling with online learning.
“The Milford community has always done a great job of caring for our students,” Lamotte said. “Our school district and our teachers are doing an amazing job making the most of a difficult school year. They are rock stars! Our goal is to help take some of the stress off of families who may not be able to provide internet access for their child’s education. We believe every kid has the right to the best education possible. Our teachers are doing their part. WE hope to provide space for students and teachers to connect, virtually, in order for each student to achieve their best.”
Avenue is asking parents to preregister their children for the Café which will be open Mondays and Thursdays from 8 AM until 3:30 PM. Elementary students should be accompanied by a parent or trusted adult as they are not set up as a daycare facility. Middle and high school students are allowed to attend on their own. Students must bring their own Chromebook, headphones and educational supplies. Volunteers will be available for questions regarding the Wi-Fi only.
Parents may register their students here. Anyone with questions can call the church at 302-422-8111 during regular business hours.