CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are juggling their own work schedules with the educational needs of their children. Driscoll Health System now provides employees an innovative benefit that offers them peace of mind in achieving both.
The Virtual Support Program is a way for employees at Driscoll Health System to take care of the health needs of the children of South Texas while ensuring their own children are receiving the help they need to do their schoolwork while not physically in the classroom.
The program is available in Corpus Christi and McAllen. Currently, about 80 children are involved in the Corpus Christi program. The Rio Grande Valley program, which started August 24, has three students with more expected. The plan is for the Virtual Support Program to be offered until the children can go back to on-campus learning.
“We try to meet the needs of employees, to help them be successful. Our employees, the hospital and the community all benefit,” said Bill Larsen, Vice President of Human Resources for Driscoll Health System.
“This Virtual Support Program is an amazing benefit Driscoll is offering to their essential employees during this critical time of learning for children,” said Angela Craig-Coates, MS, Virtual Support Program Director at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, who designed and implemented the program.
“Parents are able to physically come to work knowing their children are being supported through their online learning day,” said Craig-Coates. “Parents are able to go home at the end of their day knowing their children have worked on schoolwork.”
Certified Teachers, as well as Assistant Teachers, are on-site at Driscoll every day to help the children of employees during their online learning day. Each child works individually on his/her school’s assignments, and the teachers are there to help with lessons, verify the children’s work requirements and ensure each child has completed assignments. The younger grades have up to four Assistant Teachers and the older grades have two.
“We are adapting every day to meet the children’s and families’ needs based on the amazing knowledge and skills of our teachers. Currently the teachers are assigned grade ranges as their ‘groups’ and subdivide the kids within those groups based on their knowledge on the Learning Platform, etc.,” said Craig-Coates.
The program is helping children in kindergarten up to 11th grade. The children are divided into areas/rooms according to their grade level.
“This program is amazing for the children,” said Odie Wright, a Certified Teacher for second-, third- and fourth grade. “They enjoy being around the other kids. They are such good role models for each other.”
All proper safety precautions are being followed. Children and staff are required to wear masks at all times. Children are positioned 6 feet apart and have designated work stations. The children work in the same station every day. Children are required to eat in their space since they have to take off their masks to eat. Plexiglas is used with the older groups as well.
Daily attendance fluctuates since parents are able to bring their child on the days he/she needs care.
“I am really thankful for this program,” said Sara Villegas, a Professional Development Educator at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. “As a single mom, this was the perfect solution for my daughter. It has been working out really well.”
Stella Villegas, a second-grader at Luther Jones Elementary School, thinks the program is “cool.”
“It’s good and helpful. I like it,” she said.
“Driscoll is going above and beyond to do this for their employees,” said Sara Villegas.
“Driscoll worked hard to find a solution for their employees to balance this serious work/life crisis in order to ensure our employees can work and take care of the children of South Texas, which is their mission,” said Craig-Coates. “What an amazing company to be a part of. Driscoll truly cares about their employees.”