Philly parent says without access centers, her own classes and full-time job would be 'impossible'

By KYW Newsradio 1060

Part 5 of a new series: 'Live and Learn: Education in a COVID-19 World'

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- While doors are closed at brick-and-mortar Philadelphia schools, the city is offering an in-person alternative for students.

Like most kids in Philadelphia, the coronavirus pandemic has kept Khasim Washington out of his school building, but that has not shut him out of a physically interactive school day. That's because he goes to one of the city's access centers.

"I like that there are new people that you work with," said the fifth grader. He goes to the access center located in Lawncrest.

Khasim starts his day with a temperature check and questions about how he's feeling. Other than that, even though his classes are online, much of his day is just like it used to be at his school.

From left: Khamir and Khasim Washington attend virtual school at one of the city's public access centers.
From left: Khamir and Khasim Washington attend virtual school at one of the city's public access centers. Photo credit Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

"Going outside, them helping us with our homework, them giving us snacks and lunch," Khasim said. "It's a pretty cool day."

Khasim's younger brother Khamir said he really enjoys the social aspect of the access center.

"It makes me feel happy that I can play with my friends," Khamir said.

Their mother Janet Washington said the access center has been a saving grace for her as well.

"If it wasn't for the access centers, me working a full-time job and going to school full time would have been impossible," Washington said.

She adds, between the health checks and social distancing protocols, she feels comfortable sending her boys to an access center each day, as an alternative to the school building.

"These children are safe there," she said. "They help them with their homework. They'll ensure they're not sitting at their computers for eight or nine hours."

Those free, registration-only access centers are for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade, and many of them are located in recreation centers throughout the city.

"The children are at the access center Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30, which allows me to go to work throughout the week," Washington said.

Those individual sites will vary in the number of slots available for students, but most sites will serve 22 children.

The coronavirus pandemic has altered life in many ways for most of us, including the way students are learning. Over the next few weeks, KYW Newsradio is taking a look at the impact of COVID-19 on education with "Live and Learn: Education in a COVID-19 World."