The University of Idaho Extension Office recently received a grant to be utilized for after school programs.

The extension office received $80,000 in federal funding through Health and Welfare to support a community program to address learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money is for use between September 1, 2021 through July 31, 2022. The funds will be used to host workshops for children outside of school time to help students ages five to 13 make up lost ground.

“This program is to address education learning loss and to provide activities that support student learning and socio-emotional development,” extension educator Gail Silkwood said. “We plan to have the educational opportunities outside of school time which includes holiday breaks, weekends and after school.”

Silkwood said the age range they are focusing on is who she sees was affected most by not being able to attend a large chunk of the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

The extension office hopes to give students an extra boost in educational areas, but they also hope to provide additional interaction with peers on group projects.

“I really do think this age group was the most affected, especially the kindergarten through third grade grade group,” Silkwood said. “That's the ages where they are getting the foundations of learning and they are starting to make those social connections. They were sent home for part of last year and didn't have that opportunity.”

The University of Idaho extension office plans to hire one full time and one part time person to help conduct after school activities. Silkwood said the new hires will be University of Idaho employees, and she hopes to have the personnel hired by September 1.

As far as where the workshops will be, Silkwood said as soon as the new hires are brought on they can begin to plan partnerships with the school district or other entities to have a space for the workshops. Until then, there are a couple of places where they can do certain activities.

Silkwood said the workshops will cost $20 a day, though the funding does allow for the opportunity of scholarships for families.

“We don't want the fact that a parent can't pay the $20 stop them from getting their kids a resource they may need,” Silkwood said.

The workshops will consist of projects and group activities similar to some of the 4-H camps seen throughout the summer. Students will be able to work on different STEM like experiments with peers that will encourage teamwork and social development.

For more information on the program, call the University of Idaho extension office at 208-245-2422.

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