NEW YORK - A room full of kids using laptops, with headphones on. It may appear that they are all in the same class at the same school, when actually; they are enrolled in different classes at different schools.

They are learning remotely in one location at the Commonpoint Queens Sam Field Center in Little Neck.

What You Need To Know

  • Learning Bridges provides free child care options for students 3K through 8th Grade who have chosen blended learning

  • It focuses on days when they are scheduled for remote learning, assisting parents who can't work from home

  • Commonpoint Queens is running a mini-camp for elementary and middle school students not eligible for the program until September 29th

  • Commonpoint also ran a Regional Enrichment Center Program (REC) for children of essential workers from March until it ended last week

"When children have remote instruction the days they are not obligated to be in school, they come into locations like ours,” said Danielle Ellman, CEO of Commonpoint Queens, who added that their team will support children in their remote education and provide STEM and extracurricular programming to keep them engaged while their parents are working.

Commonpoint is one of the agencies hosting the city's Learning Bridges Program, which provides places for children in 3K through eighth grades to learn on days they are not scheduled to be in the classroom.

It's a much needed, free child-care option for parents like Craig Lastres and his wife, who are public school teachers with two young children.

"They are supposed to be learning remotely while someone needs to care for our kids and there are only so many times you can count on grandma and grandpa to have babysitting,” said Lastres.

Commonpoint officially opens as a Bridge site next week when grade school and middle school students, who will take part in blended learning, alternate between classroom and remote instruction, begin going to school.

This week, some non-profits like Commonpoint are offering the service. It fills a gap as the city's emergency day care program for essential workers, which began in March when the pandemic erupted, has ended.

School Clinical Social Worker Anacaona Antoine dropped her 10-year-old son off.  She believes Learning Bridges should have begun for all kids this, instead of only starting for preschoolers.

"With the dates changing and now kids are having to start remote, it is hard for working-parents and it becomes confusing,” said Antoine.

Ellman says there are challenges to running programs like this during a pandemic.

Commonpoint Queens has spent upwards of $400,000 in COVID-19-related capital improvements, not to mention adding staff and equipment to provide for a safe and healthy environment.  She says it's important for them to make sure people get to their jobs while their kids get educated.

“We are trying hard to support Queens, and support the needs of working families, and help people get back to some sort of routine,” said Ellman.