As the economic impacts of Covid-19 reverberated through the state, Amber May, network lead of the Mississippi Statewide Afterschool Network, watched alarmingly as more and more high school students were forced to get jobs to help support their families. In some cases, she added, teenagers became the household’s “main breadwinners.”
“Parents may have lost their job with the lockdown and with the quarantines,” May explained. “We had a lot of teens who were out there working at the same time that they should have been in school.”
Though Covid-19 brought new challenges and hardships to school districts nationwide, especially to large, urban and relatively poor districts like Jackson, it also provided new opportunities and funding for afterschool programming.
Recognizing the importance of afterschool, JPS tapped federal pandemic relief funds that allowed it to grow beyond a couple of independent programs to collaborating with 12 external afterschool providers. Currently, the district is operating 26 afterschool programs across its campuses, serving roughly 4,000 students out of a total population of 21,000.