As most students continue to complete school work remotely, the Edmonds School District has repurposed an unoccupied school building to provide a space for students who do not have a place to study.
Edmonds Hub (also known as eHub) offers students who qualify for McKinney-Vento and foster care a place to study and complete class work. Located in the former Alderwood Middle School building in Lynnwood, the site also provides students access to meals, stable technology including Wi-Fi, tutoring, educational support materials and laundry services.
“The idea is to service our most vulnerable population,” said Executive Director of Equity and Student Success Victor Vergara.
Edmonds Hub is a partnership with the district, Foundation for Edmonds School District, the Edmonds Education Association and Washington Kids in Transition. The site is open to students of all grade levels, but elementary students are required to have an adult on-site with them.
Staff worked with a design team to transform the Alderwood Middle campus library and extended area into a cafe-style lounge for students to study, sleep, eat, read or just enjoy a warm place to sit. It comprises three common areas — two for students to work and eat meals and a nursing support station. Other areas have been set up for tech support and a place for parents of elementary school students to wait.
Before leaving, families are able to “shop” for groceries to take home, donated by community members.
Initially, staff intended to open the site once the district had reached Stage 2 of its four-stage plan to reopen school buildings. However, a decision was made to initiate a “soft start” and open the site last November.
Under state law, McKinney-Vento students are entitled access to transportation to and from school, so two school bus routes are offered twice a day. Two routes are provided in the morning and two in the afternoon, meaning students can stay at the site for three hours or a whole day.
“We have some (students) that go five days per week, and they want to be there all day,” Vergara said.
The resources offered at eHub have drawn praise from district teachers, Vergara said, since students – some of whom were 30 to 45 assignments behind — have been able to catch up on school work.
Of the amenities offered, Vergara said that laundry service has been one of the most used. Families are also able to access coats, cold-weather clothes, hygiene products and the services of a nurse onsite.
Due to COVID-related restrictions, only 25 students are allowed at the current location at one time. On average, eHub serves 19 to 22 students five days a week, which Vergara said is modest compared to the number of families in need.
When the district initially reached out to eligible families about eHub, Vergara said about 100 families expressed interest. Recently, however, the district has had more families asking about the site. Vergara said he suspects that may be because some families from different cultures may have been too proud in the past to ask for help.
“We have seen that little by little, some of the cultures are opening up and they are asking questions,” he said. “They do understand there’s nothing wrong with asking for help and support.”
At last count, staff reported identifying roughly 400 McKinney-Vento students in the district. However, Vergara said the number has become more fluid due to the economic impacts of the pandemic but anticipates the number will rise.
“Right now, with high rates of unemployment and the situation the economy is bringing to us, we are prepared and ready to start identifying more families and more students,” he said.
The success of eHub has also inspired staff to consider opening similar hubs across the district. In addition to expanding eHub on the former Alderwood Middle campus, Vergara said staff are now looking to open another location for McKinney-Vento students.
The district has also discussed allowing schools to open on-campus learning hubs for middle and high school students. According to Vergara, the sites would provide support to students behind on credits, English language learners, and other requiring additional assistance
Vergara said word about eHub has spread to other districts that have reached out asking for advice on creating their own hub.
“I’m excited that we’re providing this, that districts are other looking at that and wanting to serve the most vulnerable population,” he said.
Photos of eHub at Alderwood Middle School can be viewed below. A virtual tour of eHub is also available via this video: eHub Virtual Tour.
–By Cody Sexton