New York Edge's Learning Labs aim to ease remote learning burden for parents

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York Edge, the largest provider of after-school programs in New York City, is ramping up efforts to aid working parents who are continuing to struggle with managing their child's remote learning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As thousands of families across New York City juggle the continuous shifts, New York Edge's Learning Labs are offering a safe educational environment for children on the days they are scheduled for virtual school -- easing the burden for parents who need assurance that their children are cared for during the workday.

The Learning Labs provide free childcare for children 3-K through 8th grader on days when they are scheduled for remote learning, with several learning labs at churches, libraries, and catering halls that have been repurposed to provide a space for children to feel safe and supported.

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The program runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the following locations:
--ADO Learning Lab, 29 Norman Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
--Our Lady of Angelus Learning Lab, 98-05 63rd Drive Rego Park, NY 11374
--Horace Greene PS/IS 45K Learning Lab, 84 Schaefer St, Brooklyn, NY 11207
--Tilden High School Learning Lab, 5800 Tilden Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203
--Bedford Library Learning Lab, 496 Franklin Ave Brooklyn, NY 11238
--Williamsburg Library Learning Lab, 240 Division Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
--Antun's Catering Hall Learning Lab, 96-43 Springfield Blvd Queens Village, NY 11429

"These...locations provide a safe and nurturing environment where kids can log on to classes and educators are there to support them," New York Edge CEO Rachael Gazdick said. "Instead of being home and online, it's an opportunity for kids to go to these locations and get the support they need, and it eases the burden for parents making sure their kids are cared for."

New York Edge currently provides a mix of in-person and virtual after school programs, creating a sense of much-needed normalcy during these unprecedented times, Gazdick said.

"We have 1,400 employees in New York Edge and in each of those schools, they have very personal relationships with the kids who see them as mentors, coaches and educators," she said. "Sadly, one of our students lost a parent and she said what was getting her up and out of bed in the morning was her online dance class."

Prior to the pandemic, New York Edge was serving 40,000 kids in all five boroughs. When schools were closed in March, the organization transitioned its entire programming to virtual.

"We were able to give out 600 laptops to our students who didn't have access to technology," Gazdick said. "We run both a hybrid in-person and online learning at our labs and after school programs depending on the situation in each of our schools."

It's certainly been a challenging time for parents and their children.

"We're asking our parents to be teachers now during the pandemic, not all parents have the time cause they are working and our parents sometimes are working two and three jobs," she said.

Gazdick says the solution is a learning lab inside Our Lady of Angelus in Queens.

With hybrid models now in place, on days when kids are scheduled for remote learning, they come to the Rego Park learning lab. Students like 10-year-old Ariella whose parents work.

"I have three daughters, I have a teenager," parent Iralda Collado said. "She's been taking care of the other two little ones and being at work and knowing thre girls were here along, it was tough."

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From homework support to STEM activities, visual and performing arts, leadership skills, college access programming and ACT/SAT prep, New York Edge's initiatives are customized to integrate the school day curriculum and lead to improved academic performance at every level.

"That can be from eating healthy foods to getting enough sleep to also processing and working through social isolation due to the pandemic," Gazdick said. "We try to provide our students with a holistic approach to their needs and really create a wrap-around approach for all kids."

While spaces are limited and are not completely filled, Gazdick is encouraging parents to sign up for the program as soon as they can.

"The work at the Learning Lab is absolutely critical, and it's been very challenging for parents to organize childcare and/or work from home while their kids are at home trying to get online," Gazdick said. "Our staff is there to help with all of the technical issues that kids might have getting online, and to also keep them on track with their academics. I think, overall, it's a win-win for students and parents."

CLICK HERE for more information on New York Edge's Learning Labs.

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