The COVID–19 shutdown unexpectedly sent thousands of university students home and left them disappointed and uncertain about their future. However, many of them knew they could rely on support networks to help them continue their coursework online. They also knew many K–12 students across the nation would struggle to maintain academic support networks and succeed with the limited supports being provided by their school district, so a group of Ivy Leaguers decided to create a free, online tutoring service. This is how CovEd was founded.
With an understanding that many students face financial and logistical challenges, in addition to potential academic setbacks caused by school closures, several students from Harvard and MIT came together to create a matching platform to connect undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate mentors with K–12 students across the nation affected by school closures.
Inspired by community-based initiatives to support first-generation, low-income college students, the platform blossomed into what is now CovEducation (CovEd).
An initiative responding to the COVID–19 crisis, CovEd’s mission is to promote greater access to educational materials and support networks for K–12 students. Their vision is to encourage and empower students who are currently struggling with classes during the COVID–19 crisis by connecting them with mentors for virtual tutoring as well as career-oriented mentorship. A secondary goal is to minimize the extra work placed on teachers because of the transition to online classes.
How does CovEd work? Here are answers to some of the most common questions.
Is this service free?
Yes. This service is completely free. All of the 2,000+ CovEd mentors are volunteers.
How is CovEd addressing student safety?
Student safety is a priority and is based on parents’ expectations and standards. CovEd guidelines during mentoring sessions include (but are not limited to):
- Receiving consent from the mentee’s parent or legal guardian.
- Having a parent or guardian present during the lessons.
- Having mentors document the lessons.
- Requiring a “no social media contact with mentees” policy.
NOTE: Parents should understand that CovEd is a volunteer service and not a business. CovEd is not an employer and, other than a mechanism to verify mentors are university students, they are unable to conduct safety-background checks or monitor tutoring sessions in real-time. Parents are responsible for their child’s safety and must ultimately decide if they are comfortable with having their child interact with a CovEd mentor.
Who is eligible to be mentored?
All K–12 students in the US who are currently struggling with classes are eligible to be matched with an undergraduate or postgraduate mentor for personalized mentorship and academic support. CovEd is especially committed to supporting underprivileged students. For students under the age of 18, they require a parent or guardian be present during all mentoring sessions.
What services are available?
Mentors provide tutoring services for K–12 school subjects, including many Honors and AP classes. Additionally, some mentors are willing to help with college preparation, such as standardized testing (SAT, ACT, AP, etc.).
How does mentoring work?
Mentoring sessions will be conducted online via video chat. They suggest using Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom, although the decision is up to the parent or guardian, student, and mentor.
What if students do not have access to Wi-Fi?
According to CovEd, “Spectrum” is providing free Wi-Fi services for students during the school shutdown. Their number is 1–844–488–8398. Mentoring lessons can also be held via phone call.
How does the matching process work?
After filling out the registration form and verifying emails, parents/guardians will be able to access their ‘Find a Mentor’ page to find a mentor for their child.
What if a family has multiple students and wants to request more than one mentor?
Parents/guardians are able to request a maximum of one mentor per student.
How many hours a week do mentors and mentees meet?
CovEd suggests students and mentors meet 1–2 hours a week depending on the student’s needs and mentors’ availability.
Can CovEd help English language learning students?
CovEd has mentors that are fluent in various languages. They are working on translating all flyers and publicity materials into different languages to reach students regardless of their first language.
Is there any way for educators to get involved?
One of CovEd’s goals is to ensure all students have access to various resources that help stimulate educational growth. Crowd-sourced resources can be submitted on their homepage. They are hoping to curate the best resources for all students.
While not an affiliate, partner, or sponsor of CovEd, AWSP is always interested in sharing information about educational supports with an equity-centered and innovative mission to serve each and every student. To that end, we encourage you to look into CovEd, vet it for yourself, and consider how it might benefit your students and community.
There are inequalities present in the education system that the COVID–19 crisis has shed light on. The innovative and passionate founders of CovEd are being the change they want to see in the world. They envision an even larger movement to address inequalities while providing immediate support to students.
Ultimately, AWSP loves to see passionate, thoughtful volunteers coming together to dedicate time and energy towards helping students continue their education during the pandemic…especially those students who are situated furthest from opportunity.
Email me or CovED if you have questions.