GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The COVID-19 pandemic sent students home from school approximately one year ago, moving learning from classrooms to living rooms. School still doesn’t look the same as it did pre-pandemic, even though students in Glen Ridge are spending some time back in their school buildings for hybrid learning. Virtual and hybrid learning isn’t the same as being in school all day for five days a week, and a group of Glen Ridge High School students is trying to help their younger counterparts through tutoring.
Ojas Kalra, Alexander Jordan and Owen Brown recently launched Virtual Studies, a free tutoring service that matches tutors to students who need help with their work outside the classroom. The tutors are all high school students and will be matched with elementary and middle school students.
“I was struggling with it a bit at first,” Kalra said in a phone interview with The Glen Ridge Paper on March 23 about virtual learning. “So I thought, if I’m struggling, when I have financial support and mental health support, then others are probably doing worse. So we can help.”
Students who apply to be tutors will be interviewed before being matched with a younger student. Tutors are responsible for tutoring session lesson plans and scheduling times; tutoring sessions range from 30 minutes to an hour. Kalra, Alexander and Brown are still interviewing tutors and matching them with students, but right now there are more than 50 tutors in the program.
“Once every few weeks we’ll check in on them and see how it’s going,” Kalra said. “But aside from that, they’re on their own. As of now we’re just doing Common Core subjects, but that could change eventually.”
There are also opportunities for students who want to be involved but do not necessarily want to be tutors. Volunteers are needed to create resources such as worksheets and educational content for tutors to use.
Prospective tutors and other volunteers can apply to be involved and parents and students can sign up for tutoring at www.virtualstudies.org. Donations can also be made on the website.
“Overall, kids have been struggling with online learning,” Kalra said. “I want to keep (Virtual Studies) going. Hopefully we can make it as big as we can.”