With the continued need for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Virginia University Extension Service had to get creative when planning this year’s Energy Express summer program.
To keep students and mentors safe, Energy Express will be virtual – providing the same fun programs to youngsters, while keeping them at home where it’s safe.
Extension agent Luci Mosesso explained that plans are in motion, and she is optimistic about how the program will operate.
“Everything will be delivered to the kids – the mentors might drop off some things on the kids’ porches from time-to-time, and they’re going to receive their books in the mail,” Mosesso said. “There’s going to be some online options, but you do not have to have internet accessibility in order to participate. You can do the entire program without participating in the online portion.”
Energy Express will begin June 22 and, although students will participate from home, the programs will remain the same.
“We’re going to continue with the same summer reading program to hopefully prevent some of that slide in between school years,” Mosesso said. “The summer feeding program is going to continue at Marlinton Elementary School, so they’ll still be handing out meals once a week to everyone who is in Energy Express. Actually, it’s a USDA summer feeding site, so it’ll be open to the public.”
The site coordinator is Devan Simmons, who is a first grade teacher at MES, and there are four mentors who will be in charge of their own small group of students.
“The mentors will all be responsible for a set group of children,” Mosesso explained. “They’ll provide weekly check-ins over the phone – just to call and see how their book is; see if they need any help with anything and even provide some reading time with the kids over the phone or Zoom, whatever works best for them.”
One area where the community gets involved in Energy Express is through the volunteer readers program. Members of the community choose books to read to the students. Mosesso said she hopes that will continue this year, through submitted videos.
“That’s definitely possible,” she said. “That’s something our mentors will work with in the community. They’re going to still do some community service project work – things that they’re able to do while practicing social distancing.”
It may be different, but at the same time, it brings back something familiar to the students, who have had quite the odd year, so far.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for the kids,” Mosesso said.
There are 32 slots available for children who will be entering first through sixth grades next year.
To enroll your child, you may email email@example.com or call Mosesso at 304-799-6860.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org