Despite the pandemic, Columbus Metropolitan and other local systems are assisting students with school assignments.

Since even a pandemic can’t stop schoolwork forever, homework help programs at Central Ohio libraries have been forced to get creative to safely connect with and serve students.

Last year, Columbus Metropolitan Library logged 86,000 in-person Homework Help Center visits. This fall, it launched a new School Help webpage featuring online assistance for K-12 students. Trained library staff help navigate homework questions (and provide reading practice for K-3 students) via text, chat and phone throughout the week. Hours vary based on the means of communication. Video tutorials guide students step-by-step through homework tools, and the HelpNow resource gives 24-hour access to study tools and test preparation, as well as online tutors available during limited hours. Other links and resources are also included.

“We can help students overcome challenges ranging from basic technology setup, i.e. ‘I need help with my Chromebook,’ and through, ‘Help me with my calculus,’ ” says Lauren Lancaster, youth services supervisor at CML’s South High branch.

Assisting students virtually is not without obstacles, however. “Our youngest customers sometimes have a hard time forming their questions. This makes getting to the crux of the problem or homework challenging. There is the additional and obvious challenge of disparate technology access that some of our families face,” Lancaster says.

Check out columbuslibrary.org/school-help for details and hours.

More Homework Help Programs

Here’s a list of offerings from several other Central Ohio library systems as of mid-September. Programs and details are subject to change. Contact the organization to confirm current information and availability.

Bexley Public Library (2411 E. Main St., Bexley; 614-231-2793; bexleylibrary.org) Rather than the usual in-person Homework Zone operated during the school year, now K-12 students can call the library from 4-6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays for homework help by phone (and when needed, a chat link can be provided). The library also will refer students to homework help from Brainfuse from 4-11p.m. Visit bexleylibrary.org/educationstation for additional free resources. Grown-ups can also call in student ages and interests, and librarians will pull curated picks for curbside pickup.

Pickerington Public Library (201 Opportunity Way and 7861 Refugee Road, Pickerington; 614-837-4104, ext. 221; pickeringtonlibrary.org) After-school hours are 2:30-6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. In-person homework help is offered at both library locations during Ohio Public Health Advisory System levels 1-2 (yellow and orange). Students can come into the library to study and get help from staff and volunteers at designated Homework Help Center tables. Additional resources are available on the library’s website.

Westerville Public Library (126 S. State St., Westerville; 614-882-7277; westervillelibrary.org) While Franklin County remains at alert level 2 (orange), a limited number of public computers are available by appointment only. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Online tutoring via tutor.com and other research tools are available, and printing during an appointment is offered at no charge. Library staff are on hand to provide limited assistance, including helping patrons connect to an online tutor, find the right research tool, print and more.

Delaware County District Library (four locations; 740-362-3861; delawarelibrary.org) Cardholders have access to Brainfuse, offering one-on-one online homework help with certified tutors for kindergarten to college, covering a wide range of topics. Live tutoring 2-11 p.m. daily, with a 24/7 writing lab, lesson library, language lab, collaboration and more. main.delawarehn.pa.brainfuse.com

A shorter version of this story appears in “Parent Pulse” in our Fall 2020 issue.

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