Metro programs offer virtual learning environments for parents scrambling to find options

With many school districts getting ready to start the year virtually, working parents may be scrambling to find a safe place to send their children if they can’t keep them home.

Julia Kempler is a mother of two in Dunwoody. When schools shut down in the spring, she said it was chaos in her home.

“It was absolute misery. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life,” she told Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik. “It was just such a challenge. We woke up every day and were like are we really doing this again?”

Kempler’s son is a rising kindergartner in DeKalb County Schools, and she was desperate to find a place for him and his younger sister to be when school starts next week.


“I love the idea that I did not have to scramble to create a pod,” she said after learning that a private daycare near her home was offering a virtual learning camp. “They will have the best level of virtual learning that I think we could have asked for and they’re gonna get fed.”

Kempler’s two children will attend a program at Dunwoody Christian Academy.

“We’ve been running an after-school program for several years so the infrastructure was already there,” said its director, Charissa James.

James told Petchenik the school is offering up to 80 spots for virtual learners at a cost of about $270 a week.

“We’re asking the students to bring in their own devices, their headphones and we’ll have no more than 10 children in a classroom with one of our amazing mentors,” she said.

Up in Alpharetta, the city inked a partnership with the Isakson YMCA campus Monday night to offer a similar camp for up to 200 students at three locations.

“A lot of our residents and our employees were going to scramble as to what they were going to do with their kids,” said the city’s Recreation and Parks Director Morgan Rodgers. “Since they already do after school in North Fulton at elementary school, we started talking about microlearning center would look like.”

Rodgers said the city has offered up space at North Park and at its downtown arts center, and the YMCA will have an additional location on its main campus.

“A parent can drop their child off early in the morning. They’d be assigned a space and there would be somebody there to watch the student, not to teach the student, to make sure they were on track and checking in,” he said. “It’ll hopefully give the parents some flexibility in how they handle their day.”

Rodgers said the program costs $39 a day and parents can sign up on an as-needed basis.

“We’re pretty confident we can keep the place clean and keep the place socially distant and as safe as you can in this environment,” he said.

What programs are available to me?