Two Madison County community centers are now ready to serve as learning centers, offering virtual students a place to learn and have access to free Wi-Fi.
Phil Vandiver, the Madison County Commissioner representing District 4, had the idea after talking with school leaders, where he learned that devices weren’t their main concern -- it was access to the internet.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, area community centers have not been available for the “full potential” of their use. When schools in Madison County announced their plans to begin the year fully virtual, Vandiver took action.
“We talked to a few of the school leaders and they said this might be a way that you can help,” he explained.
For about a month, the commissioner has been working to get the Madison Crossroads and Monrovia community centers into a position where they can serve the needs of area virtual students, doing so with the financial assistance of four state legislatures.
“Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, Tim Melson, Senator Tom Butler, and House of Representative Andy Whitt,” Vandiver said.
Through the effort, they’ve boosted Wi-Fi, purchased copy machines and 20 tables for students to use -- all in an effort to serve students' needs.
“I don’t envision anyone coming all day long,” Vandiver said, “but if that’s the need they have, we want to be there to help ‘em out.”
Ashley Moore, a private school teacher with children at Sparkman High School, said families like hers in the northern part of the county often experience internet and power outages.
She noted, if needed, the proximity to the Crossroads Center would give her kids a place to go -- one she believes would be better than doing work in the car at a bus hotspot.
“They have printers there, there’s tables, there’s chairs, it’s a more comfortable situation, I believe, than the parking lots,” Moore said.
Both centers open at 7 a.m. on Monday.
Students under 16 need to have adult supervision with them, according to Vandiver’s Facebook post.