The district will park buses outside community centers such as parks, recreation centers, ShopRite stores, schools and churches in 31 neighborhoods across the city.
The bus tour is funded by a $ 150,000 grant from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. The district is about to distribute more than 8,000 backpacks filled with school supplies like rulers and writing utensils.
Independence Blue Cross Foundation President Lorina Marshall-Blake said the buses are meant to reduce disparities in health and access to information across the city.
“We know that neighborhood by neighborhood, even neighborhood by neighborhood, people’s access to health care and information can be very different,” said Marshall-Blake. “If you’ve seen a block, you’ve seen a block, and we have to adjust and customize. ”
The buses will also have Spanish literature and Spanish translators available for families, as well as “any other language that is likely to be in those particular areas,” Hite said.
The bus tour is just the start of an ongoing commitment to re-engage families and students at school, Hite said.
Kindergarten enrollments are up from last school year, Hite said, but he’s still waiting for final counts for the fall. The district, like many across the country, has work to do to connect with the many students who have attended school much less regularly during virtual classes.
“It’s going to take us a while to really re-engage all of the people we’ve lost,” Hite said. “This will be something that we will continue to do throughout the school year to find people who are no longer engaged but still in our communities and should always attend our schools.”