Churches Helping Students Thrive as Coronavirus Delays School Reopenings

ARAB, Ala. (BP) — Churches are providing options for parents as schools delay or modify reopening plans to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

In Arab, Ala., a rural community working to improve internet and computer access for its 8,300 residents, Gilliam Springs Baptist Church is among those helping students in Arab City Schools survive a two-week delay in fully onsite instruction.

“We really hope it’s just a ministry to parents who are struggling last minute to have somewhere safe for their kids to be,” Gilliam Springs Pastor Jamey Pruitt Sr. said. “We’re trying to put the Gospel on display by loving children, loving families, providing a safe place for them to be on the days out of school.”

Churches in several states are providing various programs to help students transition to school during the pandemic that has made onsite instruction difficult in much of the U.S. Programs vary from no-cost to nominal-fee options with scholarships available.

In addition to Gilliam Springs, churches providing such help include Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker, Ga., and Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Others are Wilmington Baptist Church in DeMossville, Ky., Kentucky Today reported; and, according to the Biblical Recorder, several North Carolina churches, including First Baptist Church of Cornelius, Team Church in Matthews, and First Baptist Church of Hendersonville.

In Arab, Gilliam Baptist is assisting the school system in conducting a hybrid schedule that divides students in two groups to attend classes either Monday – Tuesday or Thursday-Friday, with schools closed on Wednesdays for deep cleaning. Arab schools reopened Thursday (Aug. 20) on the hybrid schedule and will reopen fulltime Sept. 8.

“When the school announced you’ve got to provide childcare for your children three days a week, it created quite a bit of alarm,” Pruitt said. “We tried to mimic what the school was doing, and said we could take 120 of group A and 120 of Group B, but that we would also take Wednesday to do deep cleaning in our facility.”

Pruitt praised Gilliam Springs children’s minister Theresa Mayo for coordinating and organizing the church’s participation, which begins Aug. 24. The church will charge a weekly fee of $50 per child, but will offer 20 percent of its seats at no cost to low-income families. Funds will pay employees to supervise small classes of eight children each, utilizing social distancing and other COVID-19 safety guidelines. The church can host up to 240 students each day, but Pruitt said less than 100 students are currently enrolled.

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Source: Baptist Press