Editor's Note: This story is part of The Partnership Project, a series of content written in an effort by The Daily News to follow the formal collaboration of Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. Read more in this series here.
Wake up, log onto Zoom, do school work, repeat. This is the life millions of children are living across the country — doing everything solely online from their house, seven hours a day, five days a week.
In Muncie, things are no different. To help students navigate their work, members of the Ball State and Muncie communities created the Education Support Hub, a website built for students who go to Muncie Community Schools (MCS), Burris Laboratory School and Indiana Academy.
The website consists of blog posts providing resources for anyone looking for updates and information about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the Muncie and MCS communities.
Andy Klotz, MCS chief communications officer, is a member of the support hub’s advisory board and provides the website’s creators information about MCS. He said he gave information about how the school system is communicating information about COVID-19 and how it’s affecting the schools, families and staff to other board members from the Muncie and Ball State communities.
The Ball Brothers Foundation funded the Education Support Hub, and its advisory board asked Klotz in July 2020 to be involved with the project. Klotz said he wanted to do whatever he could to help provide meaningful content for the website.
“It’s another way for us here at the school system to be able to reach people with information that we would hope they would want in order to keep everybody as safe as possible and up-to-date on the changes that have to be made,” Klotz said.
Klotz said the advisory board for the Education Support Hub started by providing content ideas and feedback on the development of the website to its contributors in the summer of 2020. As time went on, board members saw success from the website, and their meetings shifted to how to keep the website running smoothly and up-to-date with new information about COVID-19.
Some of the website’s topics include what to do about returning to school during the pandemic, how to safely participate in extracurricular activities and how schools will implement vaccines in the 2021-22 school year.
“We continue to talk about how the website should reflect the changing circumstances around the virus,” Klotz said.
David McIntosh, Ball State Teachers College associate dean for faculty affairs and strategic initiatives, has regularly contributed to the Education Support Hub blog.
McIntosh said the content he writes is aimed toward parents because it's mostly local information about COVID-19, but his goal is to have more students use the website as a resource in the near future.
“There’s been a pretty positive response to the blog that I’ve been writing,” McIntosh said. “[The audience] likes that it’s down to earth, straightforward and relevant conflict.”
McIntosh said more than 1,000 parents access his blogs and utilize the Education Support Hub’s resources.
“[Parents] like to be able to go to a website that has all the local information about support systems and advocacy groups available in the Muncie community,” McIntosh said.
The Education Support Hub is funded by the Ball Brothers Foundation for a year, but McIntosh believes the board plans to request funding for at least another year to get through the pandemic. Klotz said he also believes having another year of the Education Support Hub would be beneficial for members of the Muncie community because of the ongoing uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a useful website to be on and continue through the duration of the pandemic,” Klotz said.
While the support hub’s focus has been on education and keeping families in the Muncie community safe, Klotz said, he believes anyone can utilize this resource and benefit from the information it offers.
“It’s called the Education Support Hub, but it is also a great resource for anybody,” Klotz said. “Whether or not they are in school or they have kids in schools, there’s still a lot to be gained.”
Contact Maya Wilkins with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @mayawilkinss.