Center for the Creative Arts pods

"I'm a working parent and when I found out that my daughter was going to need to learn virtually to start the year, I thought to myself, 'My goodness, how am I going to handle this with with my own job and her learning?'"

There's one more option for parents who need to return to work but have kids learning virtually from home. Yorklyn's Center for the Creative Arts Executive Director Melissa Paolercio said their own pandemic-adjusted summer program inspired her to utilize those same best practices to create a space where parents could send students whose classrooms haven't reopened yet. 

"We came up with this Creative Pod Program so, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., students who are in grades K through 6th can come to our center with their laptops and their regular school curriculum and have a safe place to be able to sit and do their work," Paolercio said on DelAWARE with Peter MacArthur. "We hired a licensed Delaware teacher who sits in the classroom with the students, and the students also get some arts enrichment when there's downtime."

The center has always been there for the community, Paolercio said, and it was the perfect solution for parents who couldn't leave their students at home. 

"We have a long history of having an incredible summer camp program here, and we knew we had the ability to be able to offer this service to parents in our community and we wanted to be available for that," he said. "One of the things I always like to say about us is we're an Art Center, there's art at the heart of what we do, but we are a valued part of our community and we are because we're open. We are lucky enough that we...are able to launch something like this."

To safely provide the space to learn, Paolercio said they're severely limiting the number of students in their pods to maintain safe social distancing. 

"We do have some spots still available, but we are noticing that demand is increasing," she said. "We hope to continue to provide this service as long as we can safely social distance. We do limit the pods to eight students per pod so that we...make sure that everybody gets the dedicated space that they need."

The center has been facing economic shortcomings after being closed for 15 weeks, but has supplemented some of their expenditures through grants and additional government funding, which has allowed them to make this move to surrogate classroom. 

"We know that the arts breed connection. We know that the arts help us process, to understand our human situation and connect with one another--and we need that now more than ever," Paolercio said. "We knew we were going to be vital and we had to be out there for our community."

For more information on the program, visit CCArts.org or call 302.239.2434.