Getting needed after-school academic instruction and help for high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, but Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center’s Upward Bound (UB) EC/BEM program has approached the task with a multi-faceted approach.
“Virtual learning has been extremely difficult based on the fact that our students have to participate within their own school districts regularly and work with us also,” said UB Program Director Keith Ware, EdD. “We have modified instruction to best fit our participants. We are doing more in-person tutorials within CDC guidelines and are presenting speakers on Zoom sessions. We are also sending home STEM projects to our students.”
UB EC/BEM began its after-school instruction on Monday, Sept. 14 for high school students in East St. Louis, Cahokia (EC) and Brooklyn, the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School, and Madison (BEM).
Besides delivering academic instruction in myriad ways, UB EC/BEM is also intent on providing counseling during a time that many are finding stressful.
“We have upped the ante when it comes to counseling students,” noted Ware. “We want to check on our students to see if they are doing well emotionally and socially. Our counselors are contacting students daily to make sure their needs are being met.”
One social distancing event that UB EC/BEM has incorporated to meet part of their nutrition obligation of the program is to provide Saturday food truck events.
“This has been quite a trying time for students who are used to in-person interaction with our staff after school,” continued Ware. “To expect high school students to do virtual programming 10-12 hours a day is not normal, healthy or beneficial. We are trying to meet the needs of our students the best way possible, which means constantly modifying what we are doing to keep them engaged.”
The SIUE East St. Louis Center Upward Bound programs help youth prepare for higher education and serves students from East St. Louis and Cahokia (EC), and Brooklyn, East St. Louis Charter and Madison (BEM) High Schools. Participants receive instruction in literature, composition and STEM subjects on college campuses after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. The quality services provided will prepare the students for successful high school completion and entrance into post-secondary programs. Upward Bound is a college-preparatory program designed to serve low-income and/or potential first-generation college students who are currently in grades 9-12.
Keith Ware, EdD, SIUE East St. Louis Center Upward Bound program director.