Desert Recreation District to Offer Learning Center at Mecca Library
MECCA – The Mecca Community Library will be utilized as a “distance learning hub” in a program that provides learning and recreation opportunities for local students who need assistance with school work and may not have anywhere else to go when parents are at work.
Starting next week, the Desert Recreation District will use the Mecca Library as a learning center site in its Ed-Rec Connect Program. The Ed Rec Connect program is offered at Desert Recreation District-operated community centers across the Coachella Valley to support working families during this period of distance learning.
“I am glad the Mecca Community Library will be a learning center, a great opportunity for students to do their school work, and participate in enriching activities and socialization,” said Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “This improves distance education, helping students continue to learn. I want to thank the Desert Recreation District for creating the Ed Rec Connect program, as well as the Riverside County Library System and the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County for enhancing the quality of education and supporting working families.”
The Ed-Rec Connect program provides a supervised and safe place for academic and literacy support, fitness, art lessons, music and dance, and more for students ages five to 12. Students must be currently enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“Our goal is to help working families work, and distance learning students learn. With the support of our partners, the Ed-Rec Connect program provides children a safe, small group environment with the adult guidance and tools needed to be successful distance learners,” said Desert Recreation District General Manager Kevin Kalman. “The neighboring program locations in Mecca, Thermal and North Shore are currently at capacity. The addition of the Mecca Library will enable 10 additional families to access the program.”
The program operates from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students are asked to bring their own tablets or computers, headphones and a lunch.
Students begin the day with a health check. There is a daily curriculum, with structured time for school work, a break, afternoon snack, exercise and after school recreational activities.
The Mecca Library site will have no fee for participants. The fee for the program at other sites is $75 per week or less, with a 10 percent discount for siblings. Qualifying families can receive financial assistance and scholarships, available through the support of the Desert Recreation Foundation.
The Ed-Rec Connect program has two full-time Desert Recreation District staff at each learning center. Face coverings are required for all participants and physical distancing is practiced. Hand sanitizer is available at all times.
The program is offered at Desert Recreation District locations: the Bermuda Dunes Community Center, Indio Community Center, Indio Hills Community Center, Jerry Rummonds Senior and Community Center, La Quinta Community Fitness Center, Mecca Community Center, North Shore Beach & Yacht Club Community Center, Palm Desert Community Center, Portola Community Center and Thousand Palms Community Center. Limited spots are available. Some learning centers are already at capacity (10 students).
Registration for the Mecca Library site will open on Monday. Families will be able to register through https://www.myrecreationdistrict.com/camps-and-after-school.
The Mecca Library site program is offered at no cost to participants thanks to the support of the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County, the Riverside County Library System, and the Desert Recreation Foundation/Desert Recreation District.
“The Riverside County Library System is very pleased that Mecca Community Library has been chosen to partner with the Desert Recreation District as a learning hub. Additionally, distance learners throughout Riverside County are eligible to use many educational resources offered electronically on RCLS’ website, www.rivlib.net. If you do not already have a library card, you may apply for an eCard on the website and access these resources,” stated Barbara Howison, County Librarian.
School districts in Riverside County began the school year with distance learning, with school campuses closed and instruction provided virtually. There have been a number of challenges, such as the “digital divide” with a lack of devices and Internet access, and parents going to work. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has dedicated $11 million to purchasing devices and hotspots for students of public and private schools throughout the county to address challenges with access to technology.
Last month, the California Department of Public Health issued guidance for groups of up to 14 students to get together in a supervised setting, known as a “distance learning hub,” to provide additional support to students with distance learning.