FLUSHING — As students begin the new school year remotely, Flushing United Methodist Church is opening its doors to kids who need an internet connection to complete online classes.
Each school day, Flushing United Methodist Church will be transforming its fellowship hall into a WiFi hotspot for Flushing students from all grade levels. Students can bring their laptops and devices to access remote courses at the church Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
JJ Mannschreck, lead pastor of Flushing United Methodist Church, said that his church is offering a back-up plan for students who don’t have WiFi or reliable internet at home.
“The safest place for the kids to be learning right now is at home,” said Mannschreck. “However, we know that not everyone has access to WiFi or a strong internet connection. And we know that a poor signal can be disruptive for class, leading to a poor learning experience. We just want kids to know that we have a safe place for them to get decent internet so they can focus on school.”
Mannschreck said that additional internet access points have been installed to improve the hall’s WiFi connection and handle dozens of student internet users. The hall is also equipped with amply spaced tables and can accommodate a maximum of 35 students at a time.
Students who come to the fellowship hall will be required to wear masks and will have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
“Because most students are minors, they would have to be monitored,” Mannschreck said. “We are not staffed to be responsible for so many kids, so we need parents to come with them.”
Hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and disposable masks will be available for all guests, and students can bring lunches with them while they work.
Mannschreck said that the fellowship hall will be open to students until Flushing Community Schools is able to resume in-person or hybrid classes. Currently, the Flushing School District is planning to hold remote classes until at least Oct. 5, pending COVID-19 projections and guidance from the Genesee County Health Department.
Flushing United Methodist Church is located at 413 E. Main Street near downtown Flushing. Students can access the fellowship hall on the first floor of the church.