Local resources help students get back on track after falling behind academically due to the pandemic

HOUSTON – One year ago when school districts transitioned to online learning because of the pandemic, Hester House in the Fifth Ward pivoted alongside them.

“We’ve definitely seen a big increase in parents needing help,” said Andrea Sankey, the Development Director at Hester House.

Sankey said that the Hester House turned its in-person after-school program to 100% virtual. Monday thru Friday, the organization offers online homework assistance for children ages 4-12.

Public libraries are another available resource. Houston, Montgomery, and Fort Bend County public libraries all offer the live virtual tutoring service on their websites called Brain Fuse. The tutoring service is available for students elementary age thru college.

“They also have practice tests,” said Susan King, Youth Services Coordinator for the Fort Bend County Library. “Everything from reading comprehension, to math, science, and social studies. You can go online and receive help with the information.”

Students are paired with a tutor online and the service is free to the public.

“Each individual has a teaching background,” said Houston Public Library Youth Services Advocate Mary Wagoner. “They will also do online assessments so you can find out what your particular strengths and weaknesses are on any given subject.”

Hester House is also offering online enrichment outside of the classroom.

“We have a vested interest in making sure that our students succeed and that they aren’t just supported academically but are able to support students and families holistically as well,” said Sankey.

Hester House offers online extracurriculars like chess, music and virtual yoga between 3-6 p.m. during the week. Fort Bend and Houston Public Libraries also offer curbside craft packages.

The first step to access any of the online help with the libraries is to make sure to sign up for a virtual library card.

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